For Tastebuds, a temporary closure was the best safety mechanism
MATTAPOISETT — For Tastebuds Bistro and Catering, staying open amid a coronavirus order that limited restaurants to takeout meant slashing staff sizes and menu options. Then, as cases were confirmed in town and the peak predicted for the next two weeks, they decided to close for safety reasons.
After Governor Charlie Baker’s “takeout only” order on March 15, owners Carol and Marc Landeau decided to cut down the menu, and tailor it to seafood choices that would allow them to lean on Marc’s career in the fishing industry, with fish tacos, salmon, and haddock on the smaller menu.
The restaurant dropped from about 12 employees to just the owners and their chef, Corey Zaccari.
Then, on April 1, the day after seven cases were confirmed in Mattaposiett, the small team decided to close.
“It wasn’t worth jeopardizing the community or us for us to be open,” Carol said on April 3, adding that “We will temporarily be closed until after the two week expected spike.”
When operating with a team of three they were forced to take on a lot more of the responsibility themselves.
“My husband and I have been washing dishes,” Carol said. She also had high praise for Zacchari, and said before the closure that “we would not be able to do this without him. He’s been pulling 12, 13 hour days.”
Carol said that takeout wasn’t a foreign concept at Tastebuds, but the restaurant had fewer takeout orders during normal operation because the upscale ambiance is part of the experience.
In a parking lot pickup-only scenario, it was strange for Carol to not have customers come in and be swayed by seeing menu items like the weekend cinnamon buns. On the other hand, taking credit card payments over the phone and leaving orders on the restaurant’s deck for customer pickup creates a contactless takeout system
Carol said since her kitchen is a controlled environment, it was easy to keep it clean, with only a few people coming in and out. However, she has made an extra effort to wear gloves constantly, use spray and clean the door handles all the time to reduce any risk of coronavirus transmission.
Her regulars helped to keep the restaurant alive, and Carol suspects that they might have been there as much because “they like to see us,” as they are for the food.
Although Governor Baker also relaxed the liquor license rules in an effort to increase restaurants’ profits, this allowance made less of an impact for Tastebuds because they are next to a liquor store.