Buckhead Life makes plans to reopen for dine-in service

Restaurant group operates seven restaurants in Atlanta

Longtime Atlanta restaurant group Buckhead Life is making plans to reopen all of its restaurants for dine-in service. It will also launch no-contact curbside takeout at all of its restaurants beginning this Wednesday.

According to Buckhead Life president Niko Karatassos, the group had considered opening its restaurants for sit-down service as early as this Friday, however, they will instead take more time to prepare for reopening, including training personnel on new practices and procedures for operating during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The date has been a moving target,” said Karatassos. “But it looks like it will be towards the end of next week, the middle of the following week, for sure.” It will be a staggered reopening across a span of three or four days, he said.

Buckhead Life operates Atlanta Fish Market, Bistro Niko, Buckhead Diner, Chops Lobster Bar, Corner Café, Kyma and Pricci. It also operates restaurants in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Boca Raton.

Karatassos noted that the group had taken safety measures even prior to federal, state and city mandates that forced restaurants to close their dining rooms. “We had instituted practice to address social distancing and ways that we were interacting and serving food and beverage prior to the shutdown,” he said.

Since the shutdown, he said that the group has been “working on new procedures, planning for how we are going to operate.” Such plans include reworking kitchen stations and measuring other spaces to ensure safe distancing.

This week and next, the group is retraining its staff on new practices. “Part of training includes a mock service similar to when we open a new restaurant,” said Karatassos. Role playing will include practicing procedures for setting and clearing tables, how to present a check, sanitization of pens, how close to stand to a table, and speaking with customers, among other scenarios.

Karatassos stated that the group will not only adhere to Gov. Kemp’s guidelines, but also “going above and beyond them to have the highest standards in serving.”

Prior to the shutdown, Buckhead Life numbered 1,100 employees across its seven restaurants. Karatassos said that employees have been given a choice whether they wish to come back. “IF they want to stay to shelter in place, they can stay and shelter in place. It’s an option.”

“This is process that has been in play for two months. Now that the Governor has given us a choice to reopen, we are giving our employees a choice to return to work and our customers a choice, if they want to come out and dine. If somebody wants to stay in shelter, that’s their choice, too.”

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