THE STEPS WE HAVE TAKEN TO PROVIDE AS REASSURING A COVID-SECURE ENVIRONMENT AS PRACTICABLE.
Every decision we made in preparing for reopening and continue to make since is for the better safety of our guests and team and for their greater reassurance and enjoyment.
As a family ourselves we recognise the importance for the relaxed enjoyment of our guests and team of caution and reassurance.
A key decision was to stick with the 2 metres social distancing advice of the scientists, rather than to take advantage of the Government’s late relaxation from this; a decision that led to a reduction in tables downstairs, the wider spacing of tables and the chairs at them throughout and the creation and management of greater social distancing in circulation than that now allowed by Government.
We see this as a critical decision in the interests of guests and our team that has in practice influenced everything else.
Happily, our guests have responded very positively to our measures and voted with their feet, we have been busy since opening and have been complimented on the reassuring spaces and environment we have created and on the management measures we have put in place.
One of our regular customers, eminent food and restaurant commentator, Andy Hayler, chose us for his first dinner out after lockdown, on the first night we reopened. He commented:
“One advantage that Dysart has over many central London restaurants is a large physical footprint, so tables here have always been very generously spaced…
The owner here takes the new government guidelines seriously, and this begins with a screening call before arrival to run through a few health questions. A hospital doctor friend who visited on the same day said to me: “I wish we did that for our outpatient appointments.
On arrival you have your temperature checked with a laser thermometer, and the staff wear masks. The menus are not reused, and you are encouraged to check the wine list on-line.
You can even opt to have your food delivered on a trolley to collect yourself, should you wish. Similarly, wine service is an option you can choose, or you can top glasses up yourself should you prefer.
Bathrooms are sanitised after every use, and payment is via card only.
There is no doubt that the restaurant has put a lot of effort in, including changes to kitchen processes that the customer doesn’t see but further enhance safety.”
Social distancing and spaciousness
Naturally, after much planning and hard work, we were pleased it had all been worth while and appreciated.
One only has to look at the photographs of our updated interiors to see how wide open and spacious they are.
Our tables, which were already widely spaced, are reduced in number and even more widely spaced.
Greater circulation space between the tables results and is carefully managed.
Our expansive interiors open first onto a spacious garden and then overlook the panorama of the countryside in front of us. There is a feeling of seamless openness.
The reorganisation of our airy and light dining room upstairs, with its lovely open views, is now a popular place for lunch and dinner and is often requested when booking a table.
We don’t claim to have foreseen this in our planning, but everything we have done seems to have reinforced the special nature of the building, its location and its open views, long regarded, and rightly so, as a lovely venue for dining, countryside in Town, whatever the season. Even the glass screens have had unintended consequences in doubling/tripling views of the greenness outside with shifting reflections.
We are pleased by this. We were afraid at the planning stage with all the talk of screens, masks, sanitisers and distancing we might end up with a less enjoyable place. Not so.
It is our mission to ensure that as well as reassurance, we continue to provide a total experience of pleasure, calm, relaxation and indulgence – and how much more important that is now than ever!
- There are more tucked away tables.
- There is even more privacy.
- The garden views are even greater, day and night.
- The views of the Park are opened up even more.
- Sun reaches into all the tables.
- The rooms upstairs are now enjoyed by our guests, all the time.
- There are different spaces for all.
- The paintings and artworks can be enjoyed from close, from long views, from new angles.
- At the moment the place is full of sun for much of the day. Come the evening the quality off light and ambience changes into something altogether richer. There are intimate and enclosed spaces, soft lights, romantic tables tucked away.
We are keeping the Government’s rules and guidance on gatherings indoors under close watch. They currently allow small groups indoors, with restrictions.
However, in the interests of all our customers and our team, we continue to restrict bookings at the same table to two households and their bubbles and do not take bookings for six from 6 separate households, the so-called ‘rule of six’.
We have tables suitable for couples, tables for 4 guests and some for 6. Since the ‘rule of six’, we take no more than 6 guests at a table, even if from just two households. We will not ‘pack people in’ and will check all are from no more than two households, including their ‘bubbles’.
We have some lovely places in the restaurant, areas set slightly apart and special for a private event, but even for private events bookings are limited to 6 guests and then only if from two households and their bubbles.
Even if larger gatherings are allowed soon, we will continue to restrict numbers in this way to ensure a reassuring environment for guests.
AFTER COMPREHENSIVE RISK ASSESSMENT OF OUR BUILDINGS AND OPERATIONS
WHAT WE’VE DONE PHYSICALLY
- More open space within the building
- Circulation routes decluttered
- New ordering system
- No cash
- Tables and chairs even further apart
- New wall separating the bar and restaurant tables from the route to the side exit door
- Glass screen at reception
- Some glass screens, downstairs and upstairs
- Wide open circulation space, from an opened up reception at the entrance to all the public areas, including upstairs
- Upstairs dining rooms opened up
- Enhanced ventilation in the kitchens, with new ventilation systems, reduced heat from substitution of induction, electric salamander and steam ovens for the former gas rings and one of the gas ovens.
WHAT WE’VE DONE IN MANAGEMENT
We have introduced significant working as well as physical measures to help guests and team alike.
We seek the help and understanding of our guests – we are all in changed circumstances with social distancing.
We are pleased our approach has been welcomed as reassuring, with guests’ commenting that it serves to reinforce our spaciousness, already highly appreciated and that our efforts to keep the relaxed atmosphere of dining out as a joyful experience have succeeded.
- on confirming bookings we ask a number of questions relating to exposure to Covid and ask that guests to be mindful of other guests and our team and not to come if they have been put at risk
- there are staggered booking and arrival times so guests from different households for different tables can arrive separately – this is to help us help you with good social distancing
- no physical contact between guests and the team
- although temperatures are tested on arrival and guests are asked to sanitise their hands before being guided to their table, we do request that guests take care to sanitise their hands before arriving, whether travelling by car, public transport or walking
- We are open for food and drinks only, seated at table; the bar is only for service of drinks to the table
- tables are not turned and since we are minimising the need for circulation within the restaurant, moving table will not be possible once seated
- coats are no longer taken and handled by us, but hung by guests themselves at their own table – we suggest that outdoor clothing be minimised where possible
- we have introduced a one-way circulation route, entrance at the front, way out from the side door
- there is a dedicated member of the team through lunch and dinner to:
– keep door handles in and out, newel posts, handrails, all touch points and lavatories sanitised after each use
– seek to avoid any chance head-on encounters on the way up and downstairs, to the way out, or the lavatories
- masks are worn by our team, front of house and behind the scenes
- we offer service options – trolleys that can be placed by the table for those who do not wish to be served personally, tables kept for use as service tables if any guests wish this and, of course, personal service
- where personal service is required [which it mostly is] it is less intrusive, with more distanced ordering and advice and with the option to pour own wine and water
- paper menus for the table during the whole meal booking, not used again
- fewer menus to make ordering quicker and easier
- wine list inspected by link provided by us for the customer’s own mobile device
- consistent waiter per table wherever possible to reduce scope of contact
- all guest linen and chefs’ whites laundered by our laundry company, accredited for Covid secure laundry
- of course, sanitisers at reception, at table, in the lavatories
- all our cleaning materials advised by ECOLAB
- lavatories restricted to one person at a time
- no wandering around the restaurant, assisted by a waiter when leaving table to minimise the chance of meeting another diner en route and further assisted by our deciding no longer to take children under 8
- all payment by card/phone/device – no cash, except on occasion for tips, which is not handled by the team during service.
We have now decided to introduce a new measure to give our guests added reassurance after the Summer months.
It’s that time of year when seasonal colds and ailments arrive. Although these have been with us forever and Government in England has not required this, we have reflected on the desirability of strengthening our arrangements.
We have, therefore, decided to ask guests to arrive wearing a mask, to keep it on until seated at table and to don it again before leaving table. Masks are already worn by the team throughout service. This will mean that all circulation within the restaurant away from the table, already spacious, will be both limited and with masks worn.
The purpose is simply maximum reassurance for guests and team and we hope that this will be appreciated.
STRICT STANDARDS FOR THE FRONT OF HOUSE AND KITCHEN TEAMS
- maximum separation during the whole day
- return to work health checks, followed up by daily health checks and temperature testing
- sanitisers and new hand wash points to support use of both
- social distancing throughout the workplace
- anyone with any signs of a cold/temperature not allowed at work/sent home, kept isolated and required to be Covid tested if needed
- strict control over holiday destinations and testing
- masks enforced at all times, changed regularly, as are aprons
- own linens laundered at compliant temperatures
- team travel to work arrangements questioned and assessed; we are lucky to have a largely local team arriving by foot, by cycle and in one case by car – all wear masks and follow strict hand wash and sanitising regimes
- staggered times of arrival, with set process for sanitising, changing from travel to work clothes
- staff breaks in open break out area
- no delivery drivers beyond the service yard, no goods into the kitchens until sanitised, strict requirements of suppliers and delivery drivers.
WHAT WE WILL NOT CHANGE
- Quality of our ingredients and our range of small suppliers, which we intend to continue supporting
- quality of what we do and how we do it.
WHAT WE HAVE NOT HAD TO CHANGE:
- the great sense of space and open countryside around us that sets the scene for a relaxed and expansive experience with us
- our idyllic country and village setting, away from the crowds
- our large and very verdant gardens that reinforce the feeling of calm spaciousness immediately you walk in and build expectations of what you will find within, through our wide open, oak, double entrance doors
- our enviable location which offers the ability to get to us direct from your own front door, in your own space, on foot, by cycle, by car to our large car park
- exceptionally beautiful, ever changing and interesting walks and cycle rides to us from all directions in all seasons, Richmond along the River Thames, across the Petersham Meadows, from Richmond Hill and Star and Garter through Petersham Woods and Common, from Kingston and Ham along the River, past Ham House, from Twickenham across the River by the ferry in season, from all across Richmond Park.
- if necessary, easy and masked accessibility by bus, secure in the knowledge that sanitiser is immediately provided on arrival at reception.
Our aim has always been to provide the quality experience of the best in Mayfair, in the countryside surroundings of Petersham, 30 minutes away from Central London; perhaps those very qualities are now more important than ever before.