Public Health

How to (Re)open a Restaurant

June 1, 2020  • Institute Staff

As state and local governments set parameters for restaurants to reopen, there has been one thing missing: real guidance about how kitchens should operate during a pandemic. This isn’t a next-week or next-month sort of question: kitchens across the country are already preparing food for takeout and delivery, and feeding millions of essential workers onsite. Most kitchens are operating without a cohesive guide to best practices, and there is a lot of variation among the protocols that are in place. Enter Corby Kummer, the executive director of the Institute’s Food and Society Program and the editor-in-chief of this magazine. As a food journalist (he’s also a senior editor at The Atlantic), Kummer was exploring how chefs were faring during Covid-19, and he recognized that the industry needed authoritative and practical guidance—and quickly. With the help of industry, government, academic, and philanthropic partners—and the expertise of recently retired CDC epidemiologist Dr. Sam Dooley Jr.—the program has released Safety First: Serving Food and Protecting People During Covid-19 with clear, detailed recommendations that touch on every point of the food-preparation process. Workspace organization, processing and packaging, and delivery, among others, each have their own set of protocols. Clare Reichenbach, the CEO of the James Beard Foundation, says, “It is our hope that this guide helps chef-owners and restaurateurs reopen in a way that reinforces restaurants as accessible, safe, and prioritizing the health of their employees and customers.” The guidelines are co-presented by the Food and Society Program, World Central Kitchen, Off Their Plate, and the James Beard Foundation, and through the generous support of the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.