A landmark hotel in Uptown Dallas is reopening its doors.
The prestigious Ritz-Carlton, Dallas is resuming full operation of its luxury spa and limited hours of operation at its award-winning Fearing's Restaurant and Rattlesnake Bar, led by chef Dean Fearing, while adhering to state and local guidelines and regulations. Opening day is June 17.
A release details their extensive protocols, including the appointment of a "Cleanliness Champion," Bertha Serrato, who will lead safety efforts and training, and stay up to date on the changing needs and procedures, including staff temperature checks, social distancing, hand sanitizing, sanitization of public areas and high touch zones, paperless dining via QR code menus, and contactless room service delivery.
Chef Dean Fearing says that, when the decision to reopen was made, every staffer who was invited to return said yes.
"We're going to start out lean and mean, but the first workers who are coming back are lifers — people who started at Fearing's 13 years ago and who make the restaurant what it is," he says. "It's like a family."
Fearing says he wasn't sure how it would go, since he'd seen conversations in the industry about whether staying on unemployment would prove to be more profitable than returning to work.
"But on our first callback, I didn't have anyone who said they didn't want to come back," he says. "Everyone came back."
In addition to a leaner staff, they'll also open with shorter hours: dinner only, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, while the Rattlesnake Bar will be open from Wednesday through Saturday.
"To be honest, this is dedicated to our Dallas audience," he says. "For us to be open every night, we need the business traveler to come back, and that's not happening yet. Until we see the business traveler getting on planes and staying in hotels, being open Sunday-through-Thursday isn't sustainable. But I know we'll do great with the weekends."
They've also reduced the menu to what he calls "the fighting few."
"It's going to be the most popular dishes, plus some new seasonal dishes," he says. "We'll still have the vegetarian menu, which has been such a success, and then certain dishes we have to have: tortilla soup, barbequed oysters 'Rockefearing' on jumbo lump crab, the buffalo tenderloin with jalapeno grits, and the Prime filet with chicken fried lobster. Those had to be on the menu. In 13 years, those have become the most popular dishes I've had in my career."
One thing that will be easy to accommodate is social distancing, since Fearing's was designed with multiple dining rooms and seating areas.
"That was one thing I said when this came out — thank goodness we have a big restaurant," he says.