In this Q&A with a local restaurateur, we hear from chef Luke Venner of elm restaurant downtown about how the highly touted eatery is coping with restrictions following the COVID-19 emergency.
New Canaanite: What has this past week been like for you?
Chef Luke Venner: Very challenging to say the least. We had to completely change our business model and systems within 24 hours and reassure a nervous staff that we were devising a solution to keep them employed. We also started keeping a body temperature log of everyone that enters the building and a shuttle service to keep our employees away from public transportation.
How is you faring business-wise? How would you gauge your ability to outlast this?
We saw our revenue immediately drop by 80%, this weekend we launched a brand new delivery concept called BranchBox to try and get at least some of that back. We have adapted to this for as long is it takes.
How is your staff?
They have remained positive despite the new challenges and are very appreciative to have retained their jobs.
What have you been hearing from customers during this time?
They have been incredibly supportive.
What have your most popular menu items been since switching to outside pickup?
The bbq fare that we offer is very popular. We have a limited quantity everyday so the demand is high, also I think people really gravitate towards comfort food during times like this.
What is your message for customers?
Thank-you for being supportive and patient. We are still trying to figure a lot out and everyday the parameters change.
[Editor’s Note: This week, we’re featuring a daily Q&A with a local food service establishment working to remain open and operating under public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 emergency.]
- Sign up for an appointment for drive-thru testing for COVID-19 here.
- Here’s the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 homepage. Here’s the virus-related page on the Connecticut Department of Public Health website.
- Here’s a link to a page on the town’s website that includes information on COVID-19 and a link to sign up for New Canaan’s emergency outcall system.
- Here is the updated list of what is open and closed in New Canaan.
- Here’s a link to the New Canaan Office of Emergency Management Facebook page.
- Here’s a landing page with information from New Canaan Public Schools on COVID-19, here’s the district’s main page for E-Learning.