busyfood.net – A Lot of Things Are Changing Now That We’ve Got the Vaccine

Restaurant Diaries is a weekly series featuring four different people working in the industry. Each week you’ll hear from one of them: wine educator Kyla Peal, bartender turned brand ambassador Jenny Feldt, farmer Kristyn Leach, and line cook Peter Steckler. Here Steckler shares about how the vaccine is impacting his job; business at American Elm, the Denver restaurant where he works; and customer behavior and how trust is crucial to success and safety. Read his first and second diary entries here.

I got vaccinated this morning and I already feel safer. I know that’s not exactly how the vaccine works, but I felt immediate relief. I was so excited to get the shot—the first of two Moderna doses—that I drove an hour up to Greeley to get it. Restaurant workers were eligible for it beginning mid-March here in Colorado, and I spent the past couple weeks looking for an appointment. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Appointments book up fast, especially with so many being eligible at the same time. Everyone at the restaurant, especially our general manager, was good about sharing resources and alerting us to special industry vaccination events, but the timing never worked out for me.

As far as I know, everyone at the restaurant is planning on getting vaccinated. A lot of them already got the Johnson & Johnson one-doser, so there’s an increased feeling of safety associated with that. That said, I’m wary of talk about lifting the mask mandates (Editor’s note: The governor of Colorado recently extended the mask mandate for a majority of the state for another 30 days). It feels like we’re so close to getting through this, and I want everyone to be as safe as possible until it’s over. I see trust as being a core value in this industry and in this job. Our kitchen staff is showing up to work every day, and it’s based on trust—trust that we’re doing right by each other and trust that the patrons in the dining room are following the rules, being responsible, and keeping us safe at work. It’s mutual. I’m happy that at American Elm we’re not easing up on the rules. We’re still doing daily temperature checks and regular COVID testing for staff, and we’re keeping the mask mandate for staff and diners going until it’s absolutely clear that they’re not necessary anymore. I think that’s the most responsible thing to do, at least through spring and summer.

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