A New Model, A New Beginning

25 Jul

A New Model, A New Beginning

A Thriving Petoskey Commitment

As published in Petoskey News-Review — July 25, 2020

The following column was submitted by Joe Keedy, a partner in Wineguys Restaurant Group and general manager of the Palette Bistro restaurant, as part of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce “Thriving Petoskey” series.


Despite calls of a “return to normal,” we quickly learned that surviving within the new realities of a pandemic was going to require a very new and different way of doing business. Today, our outlook and our procedures are completely different from what they were just 6 months ago, and our business model, much less our future, has been turned on its ear.

Before COVID-19, we were busy running three dynamic and diverse locations — Roast & Toast, City Park Grill and Palette Bistro — all in Petoskey’s Gaslight District. Suddenly, out of necessity and survival, we shifted our focus to safety, flexibility and ingenuity. We had to think of ways to carry on, for ourselves, our customers, our employees, and our efforts to maximize income. Like many businesses, we were required to walk down avenues we had never traveled before.

Follow the Steps

In order to keep up with, and get ahead of, the shifting directives during the initial stages of the pandemic, the Wineguys Restaurant Group team focused on researching and then implementing the strictest health protocols. We shouldered the responsibility to do what was right to mitigate the spread of the virus in our community, and our resulting multistep Preparedness & Response Plan provides the foundation for our daily operations. Rigorous five-step plans govern food prep and cleaning protocols. We strictly enforce a 6-step hand-washing procedure, and the comprehensive 24-step infection control guidelines are reviewed regularly. I must say that the staff at every level was ready and willing to do what was necessary to keep going. And, pre-Covid, we had already started renovations and kitchen updates at Palette Bistro, so the changes are even more relevant given current safety considerations. The new kitchen floor, for example, allows for a complete wash-down with updated drainage systems.

Curbside: The New Model

Operating indoors at mandated capacity limits brought a new set of business challenges. Offsetting these capacity loses required a creative approach. The entire Wineguys Restaurant Group team knew that we needed to bring the inside dining experience to the take-out customer by offering menu items, wine, beer and cocktails that exceed typical carry out dining. For example, a three-course, family-style meal can be picked at City Park Grill and taken to Pennsylvania Park for al fresco dining. And, since Petoskey parks now allows open alcoholic beverages, customers can choose a bottle of wine, a 6-pack of beer or craft cocktail from extensive menus at both City Park Grill and Palette Bistro.

Back to Business

Diners have been receptive to the new table configurations to maintain the required distances and to our mask protocols, which actually were initiated before the Executive Order requirements. We require guests to wear masks when entering and exiting the restaurant, and when using restrooms and public spaces. With safety assured, we returned focus to what we love best about the business: serving innovative, high-quality food and beverage offerings with outstanding customer service. And, while our relationships with our guests look much different through car windows and masks, we are excited to be at work.

Updates, Improvements, Expansion

City Park Grill

  • Expanded outdoor seating
  • Three-course family-style dinners to go
  • Curbside delivery
  • Beer and wine to go at retail pricing
  • To-go cocktails

Roast & Toast

  • New contact-free curbside ordering and pick-up window
  • Online menu ordering
  • Catering
  • Mail order coffee and coffee gear
  • Outdoor patio seating

Palette Bistro

  • Outdoor seating upstairs and street side
  • Whole-house Happy Hour everyday
  • Curbside delivery
  • To-go cocktails
  • Beer and wine to go at retail pricing

As the pandemic unfolded and quarantine was mandated, the community made a huge impact on our business. The Thrive Petoskey mission focuses on being a great community neighbor. We would sincerely like to express our thanks to our great neighbors for their kindness and support:

Grateful List

  • Those who ordered coffee from all over the state and country
  • Becky and Andi at the Petoskey Downtown office for suspending parking enforcement and for coordinating the Downtown Dollars promotion
  • John Crinnion and Farm Bureau for their gift certificate promotion
  • Wineguys Restaurant Group staff members who continued to work during shut down
  • Wineguys Restaurant Group staff that showed their support from home
  • Kindness shown to our staff
  • All of the people who bought gift cards
  • Benefactor at McLaren Northern Michigan who bought daily coffees for medical staff

We hope that our story of innovation in times of crisis inspires you to keep doing the right thing, even in unprecedented times. Thank you for helping us and our community continue to thrive.

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wineguys restaurant group | 231.347.0101 | downtown petoskey