Allison Pryce, general manager of operations at Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Brewpub, has been with the restaurant through two pandemic closures, the first coming in March when Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all restaurants to close. After opening their doors for a short period in July, they decided to close their dining room again for 10 days to implement a new ordering system. They reopened on Aug. 8. Pryce talked to us about the day-to-day operations of the brewpub and the state of the restaurant industry during the pandemic.
I often joke with my fellow staff here that if this were a video game, we would be fighting the big boss. I’ve been in the restaurant industry for 13 years, and this is the toughest moment in time that I’ve ever experienced. It’s all hands on deck. Everyone is doing everything. It really is a situation that I’ve never really seen in restaurants, and it’s really exciting to see everybody working together to achieve the same goal.
We learned a lot in our first eight weeks of being open after our initial closure. And basically for a number of reasons, but primarily for the health and safety of our employees and of our guests, we closed and took some time to install a new software into our point-of-sales system that allows guests to order and pay directly from their cellphones.
We love to be tableside, we love to help people choose the perfect dish and the perfect beer, and even though our staff are still around and able to do that, the customer-employee interactions are far fewer. I think for those of us who have been in hospitality for a really long time, it’s really weird. We’re adjusting to it.
The menu has changed a little bit in order for us to be able to get food out quicker and with fewer cooks in the kitchen. We kept a lot of our favorites, what we like to call here the “untouchables.” The pretzels, the fish and chips, the bread pudding, some of those things that have been around for years. We revamped our burgers — somehow, they made them faster, easier to cook and more delicious. We’ve got signature burgers and pizzas that really reflect the personality of Great Lakes.
My heart hurts for the industry. It’s an industry I love, and so many are suffering now. I think this isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s time to buckle down and weather the storm and tighten things up and hopefully when we come out of this, we will be stronger than ever.
in the cle
1:00 PM EST
August 26, 2020