COVID-19 has impacted a variety of businesses, including that of the Hotel Pattee.
“With COVID-19, a lot of people chose not to travel. The uncertainty in the beginning of what was coming created cancellations and a lack of reservations. There was really no reason for us to remain open,” Owner Tom Maxwell said.
While the hotel remained closed to the public, work was still being done to prepare to reopen the doors.
“One of our main areas of focus right now is creating a restaurant and a hotel that is very safe for our guests to come to,” Maxwell said.
Hotel staff have been busy deep cleaning and disinfecting the entire building. Staff have been trained and new policies have been put in place.
“(We have been) making sure we have everything that we need to create the most safe environment that we possibly can for our guests,” Maxwell said.
Jenny Eklund, with the Hotel Pattee, has been impressed with the drive of the employees to clean the hotel and get ready to reopen.
“We have this core group of employees working here. It’s awesome how they all connect and they all work together. The camaraderie, that’s going to feed into our guests,” Eklund said.
While Eklund and Maxwell said no one could anticipate the impact of COVID-19 on the hotel and the community, they both looked at the positives.
“Everything has a silver lining. What is the silver lining of this? It gave us time to reevaluate what we’re doing. This hotel is cleaner right this second than when they reopened it,” Maxwell said. “It’s unbelievable what we’ve done and what we’ll continue to do all the way up to June 1. People can feel comfortable coming in here. It’s ready to go.”
The doors will reopen on June 1. Though operations will look a little different as Maxwell said they will be following guidelines from Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the CDC.
“We will absolutely follow the phased reopening guidelines that they’ve set out with regard with the capacity we can accept into our restaurant at any given time, social distancing, creating a path in and a path out of the restaurant and making sure our servers wear gloves and masks,” Maxwell said. “We’re going to honor all of their guidelines and we will have that plan completely put in place by June 1 on what occupancy we can accept.”
The doors reopening isn’t the only thing changing as the Pattee Cafe will also be making its debut on June 1.
Pattee Cafe is taking over the restaurant that was previously Harvey’s at Hotel Pattee. Harvey’s opened in November of 2018.
Angie Petersen, of Angie’s Tea Garden in Jefferson, will be making bread, soups and desserts for the new Perry restaurant. Maxwell is looking forward to having Petersen work with the hotel’s team while her restaurant is currently closed because of water damage in February of 2019.
“We’re very excited about adding Angie to our team here for whatever period of time that might be,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell added that while they will offer lunch and dinner right away when the doors reopen, breakfast will likely wait until occupancy at the hotel is higher.
Eklund and Maxwell said staff members have been working together to revamp all three menus.
“Most of the focus has been on finding and creating dishes that we know our local community has been asking for and that they want. In addition we want it to be at a level where our hotel guests will literally walk down and love what they see. And it’s inspired primarily by the collaboration of our own staff,” Maxwell said.
Another item that Eklund and Maxwell said had been a concern for community members was the speed of the lunch service.
“We heard the community, we know we have to be faster for lunch. We know we have to be consistent and we want to give you what you want to eat,” Maxwell said.
“Not only did we hear, but we’re now going to do it,” Eklund added.
Maxwell said they are focusing on creating a power lunch where community members and business owners can come in, order, eat and get out the door before their lunch break is over.
“We want to be your local destination for lunch. We’re going to be focused on creating a great menu with delicious food considerably faster to get you back to work on time,” Maxwell said.
He added that they will continue to offer curbside service to those who may not want to come into the restaurant. Customers will likely be able to order off of the menu for lunch and dinner, though Maxwell said the details for the curbside service are still being ironed out.
While the hotel and restaurant are reopening on June 1, Maxwell said it will be an adjustment period as there will be some who don’t feel comfortable going out right away.
“Will people come out or will they not? But we’re going to be ready for them and we’re going to be completely clean and honor all of the guidelines. We’re going to do our very best to make sure it’s a safe environment for them,” Maxwell said.
He also encourages community members to be patient as the new guidelines may mean delays, especially the restrictions on capacity within the restaurant.
“Clearly hospitality has been damaged greatly with this virus and we would simply ask the local community and our friends and our guests please continue to support local,” Maxwell said.