How James Beard Winner Suzanne Goin Is Keeping Her Gourmet Guests Safe

Suzanne GoinPhoto Credit: Julia Stotz

The culinary industry has taken some hard hits in the past few months due to COVID-19, but Suzanne Goin isn’t going to let the virus best her: the multiple James Beard award-winning chef—who took home the organization’s prestigious Outstanding Chef of the Year in 2016—has some serious protocols implemented at her L.A. eateries. Goin, the chef/restaurateur behind The Lucques Group—which includes a.o.c., Tavern, The Larder on Maple Drive, Lucques Catering and Larder Baking Company (Lucques, her first restaurant with business partner Caroline Styne, closed after 21 years just prior to the pandemic) and the food and beverage services of the highly anticipated Proper Hotel in downtown Los Angeles—as well as the mastermind behind the charity event of the season, LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade (which is, unfortunately, cancelled this year), discusses what she’s doing to keep guests and her culinary family safe.

Suzanne Goin
Goin and business partner Caroline Styne attend LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade pediatric cancer food and wine fundraiser at UCLA Royce Plaza

Photo Credit: Benjamin Shmikler/ABImages 2019

Being one of the leading hospitality forces in Los Angeles, how are you looking to set an example for Los Angeles restaurants to safely open?

We are following all of the protocols set forward by the LA COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT as well as thinking through what additional actions make sense for us to make our guests and staff feel most safe. It’s interesting because we are really trying to ensure the safely environment for our guests AND our staff so we have looked at everything from back to front. For example, we are taking our guests temperatures when they arrive as an extra precaution. We have looked closely at the flow and path of traffic of our staff and adjusted to encourage less contact and limited number of people in an enclosed space (like a walk-in cooler, rest room or staff changing room) to one person at a time. We also set up an outdoor staff break room. We are fortunate in that we have a large patio and our dining room is also sort of open air when we open up all the French doors. There has been a lot of training with our staff as well—setting up cleaning and sanitizing protocols, 30 minute mandatory hand washing (in addition to our standard hand washing and sanitizing procedures).

What are some of the protocols you are following in your venues?

We posted the below on our website and inform our guests:

For Everyone’s Safety

In order to provide a safe environment for our guests and staff, and to assist in  curtailing the spread of COVID-19, we ask that all guests wear a face covering  when entering and moving throughout the restaurant.

We will be checking guest temperatures upon arrival.

Cashless

We are requesting that all transactions be limited to cashless

methods of credit card and mobile phone payment only.

Reservations

Per order of the LA County Public Health Office, your entire party must be present before you are seated. Please remain outside or in your vehicle until you receive notice that your table is ready. Tables will be held for 15 minutes.

Reservations are limited to parties of no more than six.

Menus

Please review wine list and dinner menu here on our website before arrival as the health department has asked all to limit time spent by staff at table side.

Why should diners feel safe coming to one of your establishments?

Going out to dine is a very personal decision, but we really feel we have done everything possible to make our restaurant safe for those who are comfortable with dining out. I think that our clientele does trust us and we have taken our duty to keep and maintain a safe environment very seriously.

What are some of the permanent effects of COVID-19 that you will be implementing into your restaurants?

We have always taken food safety, cleanliness and sanitation very seriously but the COVID-19 experience has definitely increased our focus on these protocols and those will definitely stay in place moving forward.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout this time?

Well, I have seen to an extreme I have not seen before the fragility of the moment and the idea that you never knowing what might happen. I have also been lucky enough to be part of the Independent Restaurant Coalition headed up by Tom Colicchio, Will Guidara, Naomi Pomeroy, Nina Compton and Kwame Onwuachi which formed when the COVID crisis hit. The IRC realized very quickly that the restaurant industry was going to need help and that the original PPP loan program, while a good start, was not going to be enough to save independent restaurants. We have worked tirelessly to get our message to lawmakers to help save our industry and I’m so proud that we were actually make a change. I learned that putting your heart and energy, and rallying with like-minded people you can get through and make a difference. So in light of all the stress and loss from the COVID pandemic, it was amazing to feel the power of our voices being heard.

 Suzanne GoinPhoto Credit: Rob Stark

Follow Suzanne on Instagram here and a.o.c. here 

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