Burbank Restaurants Make Call on Vaccine Requirements

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Moderna Vaccine is prepared into a syringe ready to be dispensed to adults recently. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

Burbank restaurants are independently addressing vaccination verification requirements as proof of vaccination has become mandatory for dining locations within the City of Los Angeles. 

Separate from Burbank, which falls under Los Angeles County, L.A. City restaurants are enforcing vaccination verification for all eligible individuals ages 12 and up who are dining indoors. This requirement, which falls under the City of Los Angeles’ SafePassLA program, has been in effect since Nov. 8 and applies to restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, as well as various other recreational venues.

The iconic Burbank food spot is prioritizing both the safety of employees and customers as they stay ready for any potential updates on L.A. County’s dining protocols (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Operations Manager of the Burbank location of Bob’s Big Boy, Darren Utley, says the restaurant is currently not requiring vaccination verification for their customers. Over 80% of their employees are currently vaccinated, which is a figure gathered from voluntary communication from staff members. The iconic Burbank food spot is prioritizing both the safety of employees and customers as they stay ready for any potential updates on L.A. County’s dining protocols.  

“We have to be really careful,” Utley said. “We want to protect our employees, [and] we want to protect their well-being and confidentiality. We also want to protect our customers and provide a safe place for them as well.”

As it has remained since the inception of the pandemic, the status of health and safety requirements for food and beverage operations is constantly evolving day by day. Utley says this uncertainty calls for a strong amount of adaptability from the whole team at Bob’s Big Boy.

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“There are just so many competing challenges, and it’s in flux,” Utley said. “It changes all the time.”

Although the Bob’s Burbank location is currently in alignment with their pre-COVID sales numbers, the profitability levels of the business have been disrupted due to supplier disturbances stemming from the pandemic. In spite of this, Utley and his colleagues are devoted to continuing their dedicated service to the community.

“COVID has disrupted supply chains around the world, and it’s caused costs to increase,” Utley said. “Whenever there are hiccups in the supply chain, it makes things more expensive. So…we’re back sales-wise, but still challenged in terms of being in a place where we’re consistent with profitability and cash flow. But, we keep plugging away.”

Conversely, Tony’s Darts Away is following L.A. City’s order by requiring proof of vaccination from all patrons who are eligible to be vaccinated and dining indoors. Furthermore, Tony’s Darts Away General Manager Andrew Phillipp says all of their staff members were in compliance with vaccination instructions prior to this recent rule.

“Our entire staff has been fully vaccinated since well before mandates became common,” said Phillipp.

“Our entire staff has been fully vaccinated since well before mandates became common” (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

As sports have returned and many local businesses have brought employees back in person, Phillipp says that business has been improving in recent months. The pub is especially popular amongst workers of local entertainment studios, and Phillipp expressed that the whole team at Tony’s Darts Away has been “excited to see familiar faces back in [their] bar for lunch and after-work drinks.”  

While the early stages of the pandemic were “devastating” for the business, Phillipp detailed, they are moving upward in recovering financially from setbacks that emerged during this period. One obstacle still being faced at Tony’s Darts Away, however, is advancing business while maintaining the mask mandate within the limited space of their bar. 

Similar to other restaurant owners and workers who are in recovery mode, Phillipp and Tony’s Darts Away staff members are remaining optimistic in their business endeavors looking ahead. Loyal restaurant-goers who have kept dining locations afloat throughout this journey are especially appreciated during this time, Phillipp says.  

“We are very lucky to have a strong group of regulars who have supported us through the past year and half,” Phillipp said. “Once we are able to have guests up and able to enjoy a beer while up and about, we should hopefully see better sales.”

MT

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