Welcome to the new world of social distancing and strict protocols. And as we all adjust, there is continued hope for a return to normalcy – soon. As this crisis has lengthened into weeks, perhaps months, many have also developed a new appreciation for the people and things in our lives that we have taken for granted.
With daily changes occurring, it is daunting to try to address them all so this week’s comments attempt to give some clarity to the new “normal” that is developing in the restaurant and business world.
Over a week ago, Gov. Hutchinson ordered that all restaurants in the state close their dining rooms. Some have decided to close entirely for the duration of this crisis but most are still offering service through online ordering, drive-thrus, curbside pickups and delivery services. Many are offering family style meals to go.
Those that have closed for the time being (this list is not exhaustive and could change at any given time) are Fat Daddy’s BBQ, Los 3 Potrillos, Don Pepe’s Gourmet Burritos & Tacos, Lenny’s Subs (Nutters Chapel), Streetside Creperie, Blackwood’s Landing, Skinny J’s, Golden Corral, Panera Bread, and Tacos 4 Life (Dave Ward only).
It is important to check with your favorite restaurant, either by calling or checking their website or Facebook page, to determine what services they are providing and what procedures they are using to deliver food to their customers. Some have altered their hours of service as well.
It is also important to know what delivery service they use and whether that service comes to your neighborhood. Some are delivering their own food while others are making use of the delivery services like Grubhub, Omni, Uber Eats, DoorDash, Bite Squad, etc. Most charge a delivery fee on top of the meal price but you may find some waivers in place.
The Conway Convention & Visitors Bureau has rolled out a program, ConwayToGo, to support local restaurants and is asking the community to support them as well by continuing to eat out. Some sign companies are even providing free carryout/curbside banners for local restaurants!
A new public Facebook page, Conway Food Likes, Gripes and News, was launched just before the crisis began and is proving to be a good resource for takeout menus and specials as well as tips and suggestions from other residents regarding the new norm.
Conway zoning ordinances have also been relaxed during this period to allow restaurants to sell excess food, ingredients, cleaning supplies, paper goods, etc., to the public. Bob’s Grill and Patio Café in downtown Conway are two that have advertised their wares on Facebook.
Most businesses that are still open have developed individual policies for keeping their customers and employees safe by putting protocols in place. Clinics have screening procedures in place for those coming for routine appointments. Hospitals and nursing facilities have implemented very strict protocols for entrance into the facility, virtually on lockdown.
All businesses have developed protocols for more stringent cleaning procedures and maintaining social distance while in checkout lines. Customer service personnel are using gloves and disposable restaurant menus have replaced the nice laminated ones.
LeanFeast, which has a location on Old Morrilton Highway next to Firehouse Subs, announced over a week ago that it was bringing its headquarters to Conway to help fill the need for healthy, nutritional food during this time. The headquarters is located on North Creek Drive. It was also setting up a vending machine-type cooler inside the Conway Police Department with packaged meals, snacks and drinks.
Update: Your Pie Pizza, which was previously announced to open March 20, has postponed its grand opening ribbon-cutting event at its new location at 2405 Dave Ward Drive, Suite 101 due concerns about the coronavirus.
Finally, as churches in the area have canceled services and programs, it has been uplifting to be reminded that the church is not a building. Many local churches are broadcasting services each Sunday on Livestream or Facebook Live. You can “attend” services from the comfort of your recliner in your PJs.