FORT MILL, S.C. — As more and more restaurants are temporarily forced to close their doors due to outbreaks at their establishments, others are working to get a new state-issued seal of approval to attract more customers.
Earlier this month, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced a new program called the Palmetto Priority Pledge.
The program will train restaurant staff and owners about safety policies and procedures and will allow the public to act as a watchdog for restaurants not in compliance with social distancing, masks, and cleaning recommendations.
One restaurant excited for the new program: The Improper Pig in downtown Fort Mill.
“This was something that when we saw it we said, ‘We’re doing it,’” general manager Jason Weselovs said. “I believe it’s necessary. There are a lot of people out there including myself who will walk up to a restaurant and look and watch the practices that are going on in the restaurant before going in.”
When customers walk into The Improper Pig, they immediately see entrance and exit doors to control the flow of foot traffic; tables are marked off to reduce seating capacity, and signs encourage people to sit “two pigs apart.”
With locations in both North and South Carolina, the owners made the decision to adhere to the stricter set of guidelines for uniformity and safety.
“There’s always a cost associated with it,” Weselovs says, pointing to the expensive cleaning products, sanitizing stations, and added paper costs for take-out orders. “But, it’s always for the right reasons.”
A number of restaurants across South Carolina have closed in recent days due to coronavirus cases in the staff. McMaster says many restaurants are not complying with the stringent cleaning recommendations, social distancing requirements, crowd control and mask suggestions.
The Improper Pig has been able to stay open since the Governor gave the all-clear, and owners hope it stays that way.
Weselovs worries that the record number of positive cases could prompt customers to re-think dining out. The new program, complete with a seal of approval posted in the window, could give customers an added layer of comfort, he hopes.
He plans to begin the training as soon as it is offered.
“I hope they come in and inspect,” Weselovs said. “We want to make sure we’re doing it right.