When shelter-in-place mandates rolled out, restaurants were forced to either offer takeout or temporarily close. Many had no choice but to shut their doors simply because they had no way to profitably pivot their business model so quickly while still following sanitation and social distancing protocols.
Over the last couple of months of reduced or halted operations, many of those restaurants have taken the opportunity to evaluate their operations and figure out how to forge ahead with the “new normal”—redefining protocols, amending menus, adjusting processes, and more.
Boba Guys is a prime example of that time-sensitive shift. Previously operating 16 tea shops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, the Coronavirus hit the nine-year old company hard, forcing them to close down all of their locations at first. With heavy hearts, they went back to the drawing board to figure out how to save the business. Their website explained how they made that decision and what they planned on doing next.
“We prioritize public health first (especially when our lines were up to an hour in some stores and our team who expressed concern over our packed stores), which is why we were one of the earliest businesses to close in the entire country.
“Over the last month in hibernation, we’ve seen some cafes and businesses run into issues with public health. And some reinvented their entire business model. If and when we came back, we had to incorporate all the learnings into our pilot. We know you expect us to be leaders, so we do not take anything lightly.”
After much careful deliberation and planning, they reopened one of their San Francisco locations under a new Boba Guys Express model with their “7-Step Process for Quarantined Businesses.” These steps reassure customers that the company is committed to guest and staff safety, and they provide a good checklist for other food businesses that are preparing their own safety protocols for reopening.
1. Provide PPE
Y’all know what this is by now.
2. Temperature checks
Try and detect early symptoms of COVID-19, and it’s a signal to your team that public health is a priority.
3. Contactless stations
Avoid any physical contact with elements outside your domain; this includes pushing ordering via mobile/digital.
4. Cluster teams
Create mini-teams for shifts to reduce overlap in case of infection.
5. Clean everything
Wipe down surfaces and containers consistently.
6. Next-level quality cards
We fill these out every day for contact tracing and accountability; the cards don’t protect you from the virus itself, but it’s useful for systemic containment.
7. Speed and efficiency
Minimize prolonged contact, so our new model is all about speed without compromising quality. Unfortunately, it means less choices but it’s all in the name of the greater good.
Initially opening just one San Francisco location allowed Boba Guys to try out their method and work out the kinks. Now, they’ve slowly started opening up a handful of other locations as well, including in New York.
As Boba Guys works on returning to full operation at all locations, the community support for this small business keeps them moving right along, from a plethora of love and praise on their social media platforms to this love letter from one of our Yelp Elites, Iona C.
Customers are indeed ready for their favorite places to get back on their feet, so they can return to the routines (and matcha lattes) that they know and love.