How Las Vegas Restaurants And Clientele Are Adapting To A COVID World
We remember it well, by mid-March of 2020 the subtle tinge of unease had seeped slowly into our communities and local businesses until full blown, national hysteria drained our country’s economic resources and food stores at an alarming rate. Not to mention, the infamous yeast shortage that sent would-be bakers into a frenzy.
What surfaced as a mere rumor soon held the nation in the vice-grip of a chilling reality, whose effects small businesses and consumers have felt to their core, and do not seem to be thawing fast enough.
Lingering questions regarding the future of the food service industry still hang over many of the illumined signs of our favorite eateries, some of which we have seen become vacancies. For the consumer, not only do we ask ourselves where we want to eat, but is it safe?
Dine- In or Delivery?
Many restaurants have faced the daunting task of restructuring their daily operations to comply with the newly implemented safety guidelines due to the impact of COVID-19. ABC News reports the restaurant industry suffered a $120 billion dollar loss in the first wave of the pandemic.
With floor placements to mark social distancing between patrons, hand washing guidelines, and limited, in-person dining capacity, we have seen a steady increase in the percentage of people who are comfortable dining out. Research conducted by MorningConsult shows 42% of restaurant goers now feel comfortable eating inside an establishment.
However, some patrons have doubts about returning to their old haunts, be it for a quick bite, or a fun night out.
"I don't see how it is considered safe to wear a mask upon entering the restaurant, then removing it when you eat," says Taylor Morris, a Las Vegas local. She also feels the dine-in experience is not what it used to be, as social customs surrounding eating out have changed drastically.
Conversely, online ordering and home delivery seem to be a more viable option for those who still want the experience of eating out. According to an article by MorganStanley, equity analyst John Glass states, "We see total online food delivery—through online delivery platforms and restaurant self-delivery—of $45 billion in 2020, vs. our prior estimate of $41 billion in 2021[...] Consumer spending is being pulled forward, led by accelerated growth from delivery platforms."
"I'm definitely in favor of delivery over going out to eat," says college student, Kori Lindsay, she continues, "I'm afraid of going to some places who don't follow CDC guidelines, it just doesn't feel clean."
Innovative food delivery options are on a steady incline, but the preference for brick and mortar dining is slowly making a comeback.
As consumers weigh their choices and modify their eating habits, only time will tell which of the two options will outlast the other.
The Miracle on Water Street
(Image credit: Alex Meyer: LVRJ)
One small bakery in Henderson, Chef Flemming's Bake Shop, is a rarity among those in its field, as it delivers the taste of traditional, European pastries ranging from Scandinavia, to France, Germany and Italy.
Upon entering the quaint, bake shop the aroma of sweets and treats assail the senses, followed by a warm and welcoming staff, evoking a childhood memory of being in grandma's kitchen around the holidays.
Chef Flemming, a native of Denmark, arrived in Las Vegas in 1980, and became the youngest pastry chef on the strip. He went on to perfect his craft over the next 40 years, serving as an instructor at The Art Institute of Las Vegas and working in various hotels on the strip.
In 2008, Chef Flemming's Bake Shop was established and has been a staple of the Henderson community for the last 13 years. Affectionately referred to by his former students as, "Grandpa Chef," he was able to weather the COVID storm with the combined efforts of family and determination, and is still going strong. "I'm very blessed," the chef admits humbly.
The relabeling of "essential businesses and workers" has also forced consumers to rethink what they consider to be essential. Through a fortuitous situation, Chef Flemming's Bake Shop was allowed to remain open due to the fact that it was classified as an essential business because it serves bread. As grocery stores were being depleted of their food and supplies, local patrons turned to this bake shop to provide them with what they could not find elsewhere.
The Chef states that at the onset of the lockdown they operated for two full days Friday and Saturday, and were open for curbside service the other five days of the week.
As of now, they have resumed operating during their normal business hours. Where many establishments have had to reduce their menus, Chef Flemming's has since added to their list of goodies, including pastries, bread, wedding cakes, and more.
The apple crumb cake, cinnamon roll, and almond croissant are all mouth watering, delicious, and well worth a return trip. Or two, or three, but who's counting?
Some of the biggest challenges they faced in adjusting to the CDC guidelines was adopting the new social distancing measures, establishing a one-way entrance and exit, and minimizing their dining capacity.
The Chef also acknowledges the continuing support shown by the community for small businesses, along with a dedicated, professional staff, as factors in his success. He even plans to expand his business to a cafe and a classroom, in which he wants to teach pastry courses, and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Much like the bread and pastries they bake, Chef Flemming's is the perfect embodiment of their motto, which serves as wonderful reflection of our city in these ever-changing times: "We shall continue to rise!"
Written by Beatrix Whilde