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Coronavirus: How Twin Cities restaurants are trying to adapt

It's a testing time for the restaurant industry.

With health officials advising Minnesotans adopt a policy of "social distancing" so as to limit the spread of the coronavirus, the restaurant industry is among those that could be hit hardest.

That's why restaurants across the Twin Cities are trying to adapt to an unwelcome and unexpected downturn at a time when business would typically be picking up following the winter.

Some are indeed adopting their own "social distancing" policies so they can still do business.

St. Paul’s W.A. Frost announced on its website this week it will start offering curbside pickup for their customers. Blue Plate Restaurant Group is adopting similar practices to offer to-go food options for guests who want to eat out but do not want to eat inside of a restaurant.

Alma Group – responsible for Café Alma, Restaurant Alma, Brasa NE and Brasa St. Paul – also announced on its website that it is working on similar options for their guests, including car pick-up at its Brasa locations.

So how does this work? Blue Plate lays out the process, whereby the guest calls the restaurant, places their order, pays with a credit card and then calls the restaurant once they arrive, informing the host where they are parked.

An employee will bring their food to their car, eliminating nearly all of the human interaction that comes with dining out (customers can also order online). Blue Plate Restaurant Group operates Highland Grill, Groveland Tap, Longfellow Grill, Mercury Dining Room and Rail, The Freehouse, The Lowry, Edina Grill and 3 Squares.

Blue Plate also outlined the added steps they are taking inside of their restaurants, bringing up extra staff to help with disinfecting and sanitizing protocols, monitoring restaurant staff for illness and removing tabletop items that could potentially aid in the spread of germs.

Other venues to impose changes include Bauhaus Brew Labs in Northeast Minneapolis, which has announced it's switching from glass to recyclable plastic cups in its taproom, with all patrons asked to dispose of these in recycling bins when they're done.

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It will also be "encouraging social distancing and ... discouraging the use of shared board and video games," and has announced it will only be "giving out only air high-fives for the time being."

Restaurant owner Tim Niver announced on his Twitter account earlier this week that his restaurants – Saint Dinette, Mucci’s Italian and Trattoria Mucci – also implemented new precautionary measures to combat the spread of Coronavirus. He said they increased surface sanitizing stations and worked with St. Paul-based Ecolab to install hand sanitizer stations in both common and work areas.

Taking a more practical approach to social distancing is Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill and Lounge in Eagan, which is removing tables from its restaurant’s floor plan to allow for more space between customers.

Fair State Co-op is taking a similar approach, announcing on Friday that it is reconfiguring its taproom to try and limit close contact between patrons.

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