Since my last Journal entry, we have been busy with the same menu, system of service, management, procedures, open/closing times and host/hostess setup we established at the end of June. It has been new but it has the flavor of the old. Most patrons who I have talked to have noted the changes but loved “being back at Barnacle Billy's”. The prevalent comment; “Thank you for being open.” My reply has always been; “Thank you for being here.” And we certainly can't do this without you!
I have decided to close Barnacle Billy's and Barnacle Billy's, Etc. on November 1, 2020. The obvious reason for this is that we are using the kitchens from both restaurants. I have been asked about a day off (a day where we are closed to the public), as we did in the spring. My plan is to stay open daily until the end. We only have just over a month left. Time goes by fast, at least for me. Of course, wanting to stay open daily and doing so will depend on the weather, the direction from our Governor Mills and business in general. So we will proceed from day to day with an open mind and a plan to change, if need be.
The weather is certainly going to play a part in how the restaurants function through October. For Barnacle Billy's (original), we have limited inside seating and some outside seating depending on the air temperature and wind. We can put the awnings out on the deck overlooking the Cove with rain as long as it isn't too windy. And we have some cover and umbrellas on the patio if the wind isn't too strong.
For Barnacle Billy's, Etc., we will use the upper floor for dining if the garden patio is closed for rain or it is just too cold. We have eleven tables up there now. This is the same floor where the bathrooms are located. I am not opening up the rest of the building as it interferes with the new system we have developed, I don't feel it is safe enough in this Covid-19 environment and we don't have enough staff to properly address the dining needs of our patrons.
The weather so far has been abnormally good, excellent in fact. Had someone informed me last summer that we would be in the pandemic we are living now, I would have prayed for the weather we have already had to get us through it. And, indeed, we would never have done as well without this great weather. I haven't yet had time to see where we are economically. But we have achieved the numbers we needed in the business model we had developed to keep us from going under, assuming all the rest of it goes as planned. We have other marks to hit before I can safely breath a sigh of relief.
We have lost many of the employees we had this summer. Most had to leave at the end of the summer season or had to go back to school. We still have a core of individuals who are some of the best we have ever had. They have been working their tails off since the summer passed. And it shows. I am so grateful to have such wonderful people behind me.
The last thing I want to mention is how we are keeping our restaurants safe. Since the beginning, I have made everyone on this property wear a mask, unless they are sitting down and eating. In that regard, we have spaced the tables more than eight feet apart so our customers sitting in chairs are a minimum of six feet away from customers in the adjacent tables. Our employees who are handling tables and serving food are required to wear gloves at all times Frequent hand washing is also required and, only in certain circumstances, in lieu of gloves. Every night we have our “night crew” come in to do a standard deep clean before the start of the next working day.
In the years that I have been working in Barnacle Billy's restaurant, by this time of year, we have had the flu virus go through the system three times, more or less. This year, under the safety protocols, we have not had a single case of the flu. The masks, gloves, social distancing, fresh air, hand sanitation, disinfecting surfaces and gloves work. I feel safe. My employees feel safe. My customers feel safe. As long as the food is consistently good and our patrons feel comfortable and are happy, then I think we have done our job. This is no time to be complacent. As to what will happen in the future, only God knows. But if we stay vigilant and proactive, we should be okay. I can't wait to get back to normal!