Food

Afraid to eat out during the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s what Miami restaurants are doing

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You’re scared to leave your house. There’s a global pandemic out there.

Experts are advising social distancing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is telling people to avoid large gatherings leading to vast cancellations, online classes and work from home options.

But is it safe to dine out? Should we just scrap the whole idea and stick to delivery? Miami’s restaurants are already feeling the squeeze as locals become more cautious and more wary of gathering in public.

The first thing most restaurants are doing is cleaning up their act, following CDC sanitation guidelines . The folks at Diced, a local fast casual healthy focused restaurant are requiring all staffers wear gloves as well as wash their hands every 30 minutes and encourage guests to do the same (even doling out free gloves). Employees are getting a COVID-19 screening from Baptist Health as well.

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Local restaurants like Biscayne Bay Brewery, Jaguar Latin American Kitchen, Vandalo and Night Owl Cookies say they are adhering to stricter cleaning protocols.

Any item that a guest can be in contact with such as door knobs, bathrooms, credit card machines, menus and salt shakers will be religiously cleaned. Over and over again.

Guests will have access to hand sanitizers in bathrooms, front area, bar, basically anywhere and everywhere possible.

Ani Meinhold, co-owner of Phuc Yea, is doing her part in the fight against coronavirus.

“We have purchased antiseptic wipes and will be keeping them at the hostess stand,” she said. “Our hostess is trained to give one to every guest as soon as they walk in. Additionally, we instilled a new system where each employee is assigned to a ‘sanitation station’ timed to wash up every 30 minutes.”

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Some restaurants are adapting to the situation by changing their offerings. Chef driven Coral Gables spot Eating House, headed by “Chopped” champ Giorgio Rapicavoli, is currently working on “cantina” style menu, grab-and-go meals that aren’t necessarily on the regular menu that will travel well.

Craving Italian comfort eats like pasta and pizza? Casa Tua Cucina just launched an in-house neighborhood take out/delivery service. With “ Next Door,” Brickell City Centre neighbors (zip code 33129) can now order all three meals from any of the food hall’s 10 gourmet stations. (Longer range delivery is also available with Grubhub, Postmates and UberEats.)

When you head into your local Starbucks expect a streamlined milk station: no one will share containers anymore. They also are considering killing free wifi and limiting seating to promote social distancing.

A lot of restaurants are shifting to the ghost kitchen model, encouraging diners to order via app. Hooters is currently offering up wings and other favorite menu items delivered to your home or office via ezcater.com. Diced recommends that if you order online for pick up, designate just one person in your party to get the order to limit contact. They also prefer credit cards over cash, as paper money can reportedly carry the virus, according to the World Health Organization. Phuc Yea, which did not regularly do much delivery before the health crisis, will now.

“We will be implementing delivery and takeout programs,” added Meinhold. “If our customer can’t come to us we will come to them.”

Over at Caffe Abbracci, everyone’s feeling (and sending) the love in these challenging times.

“Even though our name means hugs in Italian, don’t expect one here, anytime soon,” the Coral Gables vet told the Herald. “Sadly, we’ve had to cease our customary hugs and handshakes.”

They are still happy to see you, but may not, um, physically show you.

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