By Noah Parks
When I was twelve I’d spent almost every day outside getting into mischief and often getting hurt. Without fail every scrape and cut was treated with some kind of Band-Aid, and I never was down and out for too long. During the pandemic the hospitality industry has suffered a seemingly endless series of cuts and scrapes. New York City and State have offered benefits that appeared to be temporary ways to help the industry heal. Many business owners and companies believed that after some time the people and events would bounce back. This was not the case. This was most evident when the Delta variant began spreading right in the midst of “Hot Vax Summer”. Whether it’s outdoor dining, to-go drinks, or hybrid events, what is certain is that we will feel the effects of the pandemic far longer than any Band-Aid can last.
HMG+ was in a unique position to provide not only the staffing solutions for the New York City area but also keep employees and guests safe as events re-opened. We hired the COVID Hospitality Compliance Officers through a special partnership with the Academy for Hospitality Arts (AHA). These service professionals were a key stopgap measure for companies that were opening events, offices, and restaurants. Then we ensured that every Service Professional (SP) was adequately outfitted with Personal Protective Equipment. Finally, in conjunction with the AHA we made sure every SP completed and passed the COVID Readiness Course. Due to the likely endemic status of Coronavirus, we are likely to continue following these protocols, utilizing this mitigation expertise, and keeping our staff safe with up-to-date virus training.
This is also true for all the outdoor dining that many restaurants ran to create when it was revealed that the virus was less transmissible outdoors. Almost every restaurant from Taco Bell to 11 Madison was given at least one parking space outside their establishment to create outdoor seating for the summer of 2020. To begin with, there were many improvised outdoor sheds, shanties, and doomsday shelters. Not many were inviting, however, they were all lively and they stayed full with hospitality. I remember eating outside on Vanderbilt Ave watching a closed street bustle with all the inside-out restaurants and stores. Even places that did not have a kitchen set up chairs and cones where men from the bodega were talking heatedly about the price of coffee. I also walked over to the restaurant Olmstede and perused their garden vegetables laid out like a 24/7 Farmer’s Market. It didn’t seem permanent and almost two years later it is very different. However, the farm store is still going in Olmstede, the space outfront still seats about 30 more customers, and the guys still argue about coffee outside the bodega.
These changes in how we get our food, share our experiences, and bring hospitality to the people of New York City are no longer a Band-Aid. They are part of the structure of the city. The sheds are now uniform and coded by the city, some of which look better than apartments I’ve lived in. There is good work being done to enshrine the city as a “Cocktails To-Go” city, further building up small restaurants and bars hit hard by pandemic lulls. The New York City Hospitality Alliance is pushing for significant legislation to be put in place that reflects the changes in culture around hospitality. When these take effect, it will be like the moment when Forest Gump runs away from the bullies. We appreciate the support and now we’re ready to sprint into the future. HMG+ is preparing the next generation of Service Professionals to be the staffing solution in New York City. If you want to be a part of a rich tradition of success and the permanent progressive change in the hospitality industry then we invite you to join us today.