Safe Service Allegheny Creating Best Practices for Restaurants
In an effort to further promote safety measures, three organizations have partnered to form Safe Service Allegheny.
The Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association, Allegheny County Health Department and the service-industry led Safe Service PGH have formed a new partnership called Safe Service Allegheny. The collaborative effort builds on all three organizations’ previous work by integrating the association’s Restaurant Promise with the Safe Service PGH Member Pledge. Safe Service Allegheny and the county health department will be working hand-in-hand to provide resources to food and beverage businesses in Allegheny County.
“This helps to give restaurants a toolbox for how to do the right thing,” says John Longstreet, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association.
The partnership comes as the restaurant industry in Pennsylvania is at a crossroads. Following outbreaks of COVID-19 earlier this summer that could directly be traced to bars and restaurants where ownership chose not to enforce maximum capacity, distancing and mask rules, Allegheny County cracked down on indoor and outdoor on-premise food and alcohol service. “The most important aspect [of the original guidelines] was ‘no seat, no service,’” Longstreet says. “And some places chose to ignore that.”
Indoor dining in Allegheny County remains limited to 25 percent capacity, and the reliability of outdoor dining as an option to host guests, currently limited to 50 percent capacity, is weather dependent. “Outdoor dining is going to be a huge problem when we get into October and beyond,” says Longstreet. His organization is advocating for a return to 50 percent indoor capacity.
With restaurant owners struggling to keep their establishments open, some owners in Allegheny County have decided to take matters into their own hands, forming an association advocating for openly violating Gov. Tom Wolf’s current regulations.
“I understand the desperation and can understand where they are coming from. But the best way to get results isn’t to give the governor an ultimatum or make threats. The best way to get results is by working with the people who are making the rules, which is what we’re trying to do. We don’t condone breaking the laws under any circumstances,” Longstreet says, adding, “If there are bad actors, shut them down.”
Safe Service Allegheny aims to provide a positive alternative, offering resources that combine the collective knowledge and diligence of public health and restaurant industry professionals to provide science-based best practices, as well as mutual support and advocacy, geared toward keeping Allegheny County restaurants in business through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Membership in Safe Service Allegheny is free. Longstreet says that membership fees for the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association also have been waived for the length of the crisis.