By Michelle Price
Special to the UCBJ
COOKEVILLE – Amid concerns about the growing coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., at least one locally owned restaurant is adopting self-imposed restrictions to try to keep guests and staff members a bit safer.
Seven Senses Food & Cheer, a small Southern American restaurant in Cookeville with just under 100 seats, issued the following statement Monday.
“In addition to the enhanced sanitization measures we’ve already undertaken, and in light of the latest information available to us, we feel it is necessary to take further steps for the foreseeable future to ensure our guests and employees remain as safe as possible during this crisis,” stated Jay Albrecht, Seven Senses owner. “Beginning immediately, we will limit our seating capacity to about 50% of standard, allowing us to space our tables at least six feet apart to create more distance between guests. We will also limit bar seating availability.
“Salt and pepper shakers will be removed from tables, but available upon request after being properly sanitized. Our hours will be slightly limited for at least the next two weeks, as we will close at 8pm each night. Additionally, we will not be able to accommodate parties of larger than eight people during this time.
“We encourage guests to continue to visit our restaurant and be assured we are taking necessary steps to ensure safety. For those wishing not to get out, we will gladly process take-out orders as our capacity allows. Thank you for understanding and for joining with us in taking precautionary measures.”
These changes come immediately on the heels of several major government-issued mandates across America, including restaurant capacity limitations and bar closings in Nashville announced Sunday.
“When in extraordinary times, we must take uncomfortable measures,” said Albrecht. “The last thing I want to do is change my business because of this pandemic, but I feel it’s the right thing to do.
“We’ve all got to get together, be smart, and do what it takes to try to limit the effects of this sickness. I’d rather take a hit now than have this prolonged for months to come.”
Seven Senses employs about 30 full- and part-time people, many of whom depend on gratuity for the bulk of their pay.
“That’s what we all have to remember,” said Albrecht. “There’s no one not affected by this global crisis. Many people depend on each paycheck to get by, and that paycheck depends on the revenue generated to the company as a result of their efforts.
“I’m going to do what I can to ensure my employees are taken care of during this temporary lull, but as a small business, I’m unfortunately limited in how far that will go.”
Seven Senses remains open with the above-mentioned restrictions Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner service. The restaurant will be closed for dinner service Monday evening, March 16, for planning purposes. For more information or to see a menu, visit www.sevensensesfood.com.