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The Feed: American Elm makes preparations to reopen in Denver

The owner is researching the best safety practices and getting his staff ready for when they can welcome diners back into the Denver restaurant.

DENVER — We’re still waiting for when Denver restaurants can reopen their dining rooms to customers, but that doesn’t mean they’re not preparing.

American Elm is just one of many restaurants that made the switch to takeout in March. "We did a bit of viral promotions and some flyering," said owner Bob Reiter. "To get the word out that we were doing takeout and delivery."

For Reiter, it was the next step toward keeping his restaurant, at 4132 W. 38th Ave., going and staff on the roster.

"We took a day or two as a team to just regroup and assess what had happened," Reiter said. "We just said to ourselves, it’s time to get to work and help feed our community and our neighborhood."

While no one can come to the restaurant just yet, that doesn’t mean that Reiter isn’t thinking about what that will look like when the time comes. While waiting for specific guidelines, he is taking this time to do his research.

"There are some templates in China and Asia, they’re sort of a little bit ahead of us when it comes to the curve and what it’s going to look like," he said.

From what he’s learning, Reiter said digital will likely play a big role.

"I think some of that personal, tactile interaction is probably not going to come back straight away," he said. "Any way that we can engage with the customer before their experience to limit the interaction. Queuing reservations digitally because obviously we can’t have people waiting in line in the restaurant."

Then there’s the restaurant itself.

"Obviously spacing, social distancing guidelines will have to be adhered to," Reiter said. "Fortunately one our purveyors has a COVID reopening package that has like digital thermometers, masks, sanitizer, hand sanitizer stations."

But more than anything, it’ll be about communication and patience.

"We really have to be organized with setting up these systems and then communicating them to the guest," Reiter said. "There’s a real learning curve here for all of us, the experience is going to change. The way we operate is going to change, the way we interact with the customer is going to change. We understand we’re going to have to be innovative and creative."

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