Today, as the axis of the food & beverage world has shifted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, safety and cleanliness have taken center stage.
“If there is a positive coming out of this, it is the fact that we have had a chance to look at how we do things and how we can do them differently,” says Stephanie Glanzer, senior vice president and chief of sales, MGM Resorts International.
Buffets, as we know them, are a thing of the past, contend industry experts. If they survive this pandemic at all, expect one-sided offerings where staff will serve travelers; self-serve may never return.
However, not all properties have given up entirely on buffets. Rosen Hotels & Resorts plans to continue with buffets, although food will be served by banquet servers to keep guests from touching serving utensils.
“Banquet staff will be wearing masks and gloves while in guest contact and serving food and beverages; all buffets will be single-sided only with a distance barrier created to deter guests direct contact with food items. Rolled silverware will be offered with the option of rolled plasticware, and all plated meal functions will be served with no pre-set courses; napkin service has been suspended, and all waters will be pre-set with disposable lids,” explains Leslie Menichini, VP, sales & marketing, Rosen Hotels & Resorts for Rosen Shingle Creek, and Gary Bitz, the hotel’s director of catering.
Today, expect to enjoy boxed lunches and dinners with colleagues carefully seated six feet apart from each other.
“We are doing things differently right now. We are focused on microdining,” says Corporate Executive Chef Dewey Losasso of Bill Hansen Catering.
Another constant will be plate covers to protect food from airborne pathogens.
Similar to buffets, passed hors d’oeuvres at cocktail receptions are sure to vanish. So will glasses of wine left out on trays for guests to help themselves.
“Food safety has always been important, but in the past, it was just kept behind the kitchen door,” says Tracy Stuckrath, CFPM, CSEP, CMM, owner, thrive! meetings & events, “We can look at the need for additional food safety as a burden, an additional labor cost, or as the opportunity to upgrade the service.”
To avoid the hazmat ambiance, servers can skip the antiseptic-looking rubber gloves and replace them with white gloves. “Your meal function becomes a white-glove experience,” Stuckrath says. “Today’s action stations will have protective plexiglass walls, so get paint markers to decorate those walls and also include menu items in big, bold letters. Think about the clear film you see on store windows.”
This story originally appeared in sister publication Prevue.