MILWAUKEE AND WAUKESHA COUNTIES — As a part of the first phase of Wisconsin’s ‘Badger Bounce Back’ plan to reopen the state’s economy, restaurants would be able to go back to dine-in service with social-distancing in place. In the Milwaukee area, restaurants are already gearing up for that day, with some adding partitions to separate the customers.
Adam Pawlak has spent the past few weeks reconfiguring his pasta bar.
“We’re just trying to do our best to make people comfortable,” Pawlak said.
The new Egg and Flour spot in Bay View only opened last month, but in less than a week, Pawlak closed the doors as the COVID-19 outbreak continued to get worse.
“The first day we’re open, everyone’s excited, it’s going great, and the following week you know I’m closing, I’m locking up, I’m getting rid of supplies and ingredients,” Pawlak said.
Pawlak kept his original space in the Crossroads Collective food hall on the east side open for takeout service, but at his new location he decided to spend this time preparing for the day he can reopen.
Seating was decreased about 25 percent. Pawlak also placed stickers on the floor to encourage social-distancing, and plans to have wrapped plastic to-go utensils to reduce contact.
The biggest change came in the form of partitions. Pawlak added them between tables, at the register counter, and where the food comes out.
“If someone coughs at the next table, it’s not getting to you because it’s blocked by the partition,” Pawlak said.
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Many of the partitions you’ll see at businesses across the country are made in Pewaukee at Goff’s Enterprises, where employees are working around the clock to prepare them for distribution.
President Tony Goff said they just started producing the new partitions a few weeks ago. Now they’re making up about 20 percent of their revenue.
“We’re selling these products into restaurants, into dental facilities, in cafeterias,” Goff said.
He’s expecting partitions to be a part of our new normal.
“I think there’s going to be personal safety partitions in one form or another pretty much everywhere you go moving forward,” Goff said.
Back in Bay View, plans are still evolving.
However, Pawlak looks forward to that day when he can serve the community once again.
“It’s going to be the best feeling in the world I would say when I can unlock that door again and actually welcome you know the public back in, and I’ll be here you know every hour that we’re open,” Pawlak said.