NORWALK, CONN., July 14, 2021— The CulinArt dining services team at multi-tenant complex Merritt 7 has reopened the grill and deli stations at the location’s main café to give themselves more room to work in accommodating a slowly increasing workforce. Doing that, along with opening the seating areas, has helped build confidence among tenant associates that dining services is back in business.
Throughout the pandemic, CulinArt has operated a Starbucks coffee bar, in what is known as Building 300, featuring modified grill and deli menus offered via online ordering. Menu offerings are fresh and made-to-order, with a pre-order and contactless pickup option available.
In recent weeks building management has eased tenant/employee access restrictions, removed mask requirements for the vaccinated (though CulinArt employees do wear masks), and removed social distancing signage—moves that allow customers to visit the café area more comfortably. Now, customers can order online or at a Nextep kiosk at the grill station. They can also select from a variety of packaged snacks and bottled beverages, which they purchase via cashless payment at the kiosk or with cash at the coffee bar.
“Café sales have already doubled,” says District Manager Hilary Ham, since the activity at the grill and deli station conveys an impression to the slowly-growing tenant population that Café 301, as it’s known, has reopened. “Customers feel more comfortable coming to the café and are happy to have the room to move about.”
Catering volume is also picking up, she adds, though several days’ notice is needed for ordering and staffing arrangements to be made. And Café Manager Christina Feitais and Chef Manager Mike Fiorito have already staged Smoky Roads barbeque at Merritt 7, with plans to do it again next week. While the available population is a bit low for Smoky Roads’ usual requirement, “the customers were very receptive and enthusiastic,” Ham notes. “Just about all of them came down [to the Smoky Roads station] and the client was happy.”