SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – As we start this new year, some business owners are reflecting on what happened in 2020 to learn and improve. Ozarks First reporter David Chasanov spoke with owner James Martin at Gilardi’s on Walnut.
After hearing about COVID-19 in January of 2020, Martin says he began to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best-case scenario.
“We had heard reports coming out in January,” Martin said. “Started talking to my staff and my family about this may be a potential problem and we were well aware of it. I had already talked with my bank. We had talked about some different options if the worst-case scenario did happen.”
On March 12, 2020, Greene County had its first COVID-19 case.
“We had already switched over to masks, gloves, heavy use of sanitizer, changing our policies and procedures,” Martin said.”
Two weeks later, Springfield issued a stay at home order. But Martin shut down his business just three days before.
Three weeks later, Martin and his wife re-opened Gilardi’s for curbside.
“I’ve never worked so hard in my life because it was just her and I,” Martin said.
After 10 weeks, Martin closed his restaurant again for training and policy changes.
In May, restaurants in Springfield were allowed to re-open indoor dining at a limited capacity.
Martin then introduced what he calls the provider-receiver system.
“Only one person brings food to the tables,” Martin said. “Only one person removes food from the tables while they are masked and gloved.”
Customers have to wear a mask when they aren’t seated. They also have their temperature taken and their name written down for contact tracing.
“The system works,” Martin said.
Looking back on an eventful 2020, Martin says he’s happy he learned a lot.
“We made a few mistakes, but we made a lot of good decisions in 2020,” Martin said. “We will continue to make those and continue to learn from the lessons that 2020 has taught us and everyone else.”
After tonight, January 2, 2021, Gilardi’s will be closed for the next two weeks. Martin says hospital-grade air filters will be installed, and the patio will undergo some remodeling.