Here's how one self serve restaurant is adjusting operations during the pandemic

Published: Jun. 21, 2020 at 6:30 PM AKDT
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During the pandemic, China Lights restaurant in South Anchorage has had to forego its usually buffet operations, instead relying on delivery and take out business to make ends meet. According to owner, Tracy Fan, the business is seeing a loss of about 60% of its normal revenue. Now her establishment is trying to change the process for dining at what was previously a self-serve buffet.

"It's really about educating the customer on the new way to dine in, especially at a buffet," Fan told KTUU on Sunday.

China Lights has been sectioned off, limiting patrons to one point of entry and one exit, and the staff is plating customer's selections in the buffet area. The hope is that this new "touch-less" process will make diners comfortable with the idea of coming back in to the restaurant, which has enough room for several tables to be spread out, in compliance with the municipality's six foot rule.

"Mother's Day, Father's Day and Valentine's Day are the three most important days for restaurants" Manager, Elsie Wu said. "Ever since the shut down in March, we have been going through a tough time."

By Mother's Day, the restaurant had opened for dine-in with menu ordering. Wu says that China Lights averaged around three tables on that day, while lines would normally stretch across the building's parking lot on special occasions.

Those who visit China Lights to dine at the buffet will be required to wear a mask everywhere but at their table. A sanitation station has also been set up for easy access by customers.

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