With a special focus on promoting the adoption of green initiatives, Guyana Restaurant Week (GRW) began on Friday and organisers have promised that there will be no comprise on either safety or service.
Speaking at the launch at the Guyana Marriott, Carla James, the Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), explained that this year’s GRW would be used to promote green initiatives that will be beneficial to environment as the tourism industry seeks to play its part in creating a greener space.
As a result, participating restaurants have been asked to adopt at least three initiatives.
“We have asked restaurants to use biodegradable takeout boxes and utensils, to only serve water when requested because some of the water when poured is not used and that leads to wastage not only with the water but you have to use detergents and additional water for washing… all these small initiatives can go a long way,” James highlighted.
Some restaurants have also committed to using LED lights, to purchase and serve sustainable seafood and install low-flow aerators and high-efficiency spray valves.
Also speaking at the launch was President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) Mitra Ramkumar, who said the return of GRW, which is now in its 10th iteration, provides the opportunity to bring families and friends closer during the pandemic. He noted that with everyone being locked in in recent months, persons can participate in visiting the restaurants or choose to partake in it by using delivery or pick up options.
However, Ramkumar underscored that with all COVID-19 measures in place, “Safety is the watchword and keyword for this entire event.”
In this regard, among other things, restaurants are expected to ensure dining tables are spaced at a physical distance of about 2 meters (6 ft) apart and their staff are required to ensure physical distancing in waiting-areas and queues. Tables in the dining areas are also to be sanitised after use.
Menus will be displayed on chalkboards, or on biodegradable or disposable menus, while where physical menus are used they will be sanitised after each guest interaction.
Ramkumar pointed out that customers can also view the menus on THAG’s website and place orders at the time of making a reservation. “This will limit the time spent in public and still offers patrons a rewarding experience. Although it will be outdoor, attention is being placed on the ambience in which fine dining is expected to take place,” he added.
Asked whether THAG has any mechanisms to ensure restaurants follow the guidelines, Ramkumar noted that his agency does not have the mandate to enforce policies but added that he was optimistic that the restaurants will follow all the guidelines they have put in place.
Additionally, James told reporters that the GTA will conduct impromptu visits to observe operations at the restaurants throughout the week.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism Oneidge Walrond said that she was happy to see restaurants have employed the necessary measures to promote a safe dining environment. She further stated that GRW not only provides an opportunity for persons to indulge in gourmet cuisine but also employment for delivery services.
Guyana Restaurant Week, which was started in 2014, takes place over a period of 10 days at select restaurants in Guyana. These restaurants come together to offer special menus, which are priced to attract new customers and treat regulars.
This year, while there is a smaller number of participating restaurants, there are two newcomers among them: Gourmet Grub, located at the Roraima Inn at Eping Avenue, and Signature Restaurant and Lounge, which is located at 3 Shell Road and Alexander streets, Kitty.
Raúl Jaisingh, the Co-owner and Chef of Signature Restaurant and Lounge, told this newspaper that he was elated to be a part of GRW since he is now starting up the business. He noted that while he cannot offer outdoor dining, he is optimistic that the takeout service will prove sufficient to attract customers.
He pointed out that having been in the hospitality industry for the past 10 years, he has a large clientele, who are understanding and have signaled their intention to patronise him by using the takeout service.
Still wanting to offer the best service and share his signature style, Jaisingh said he has used the limitations to create special packaging to replicate his plating styles. “Even though we are offering takeout, I am aiming to plate and present the food as if it was served in the restaurant,” the chef said.
Other participating establishments include: Café Bellvana, Cara Lodge, Hibiscus Restaurant, Java Coffee Bar, Jaxx International Grill, New Thriving Chinese Restaurant, OMG! Arawak Steak House, Sucre Restaurant (Herdmanston Lodge), Terra Mare Restaurant (Guyana Marriott Hotel), The Duke (Roraima Duke Lodge), Watooka House, Windjammer Restaurant and Aagman Restaurant.
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