Friday, December 4, 2020

Wildwood Southlake Adapts to Safely Serving Diners in the Age of COVID-19

From limited occupancy to increased curbside service, the restaurant scene has greatly changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Locally-owned Wildwood Southlake, like countless other restaurants, has adapted to this new normal, but it continues to serve the same smoky, Southern-inspired specialties.

Opened by Dave and Mary Garner in December 2009, Wildwood Southlake has become a local mainstay. Made popular by its wood-fired chops, poultry, seafood and extensive wine and whiskey lists, Wildwood Southlake offers a community-connected environment, as can be seen on its menu with Dragon Dip and the Dragon Burger, both paying tribute to Southlake Carroll Dragons.

Wildwood Southlake supports numerous local organizations including the Southlake Chamber of Commerce (Dave served as its president 2018-19) and Carroll Education Foundation. Most recently, Dave assisted Southlake Mayor Pro Tem John Huffman’s task force in creating the Southlake Safe program, a partnership with local businesses to promote health and safety in the era of COVID-19.

Southlake business owners can sign the Southlake Safe Pledge, a voluntary, opt-in agreement that demonstrates a commitment to protecting the community by following recommended health and safety guidelines. Businesses that sign the pledge receive a Southlake Safe Pledge kit, which includes PPE essentials like face masks, a digital thermometer, hand sanitizer and a Southlake Safe decal to display on their storefront. All businesses that commit to the pledge are featured in a Southlake Safe business directory at SouthlakeSafe.com.

Restaurants have been one of the hardest hit industries during the COVID-19 pandemic and Wildwood Southlake has not been immune to the challenges. The restaurant supports efforts to restore consumer confidence.

While the restaurant was closed from March to May due to Governor Abbott’s mandate in response to the pandemic, it underwent several changes, including a number of upgrades (installation of hands-free sinks and toilets, new tile, updated bar flooring, new LED light fixtures and a number of other projects). Upon reopening in May, the restaurant implemented rigorous staff training sessions regarding additional safety precautions and social distancing, as well as started contactless curbside pick-up for meal orders.

“Due to mandates from the state, Wildwood was closed for over six weeks and has been limited to 50 percent capacity indoors for the past several months. Measures to increase the percentage of occupancy will not materially impact occupancy of the operation while current social distancing measures remain in place. Our sales remain below last year and we look forward to seeing those guests who have not returned again in the near future,” Dave explained.

According to the Texas Restaurant Association, there is no evidence of a systemic spread of COVID-19 coming from restaurants – like Wildwood Southlake – that follow the Texas Restaurant Promise, which encompasses Texas’ Minimum Standard Health Protocols for Restaurants and national reopening guidance developed by the National Restaurant Association with experts from the FDA. In effect, the lack of a direct correlation is evidence that, when restaurants demonstrate effective mitigation efforts, the risk is low when dining outside or inside.

At Wildwood Southlake, guests may choose to safely dine socially distanced inside the restaurant, outside on the patio, or order contactless curbside pick-up. Whichever option diners choose, know that Wildwood Southlake is open and ready to serve the same chef-inspired comfort foods that have made the restaurant a local favorite.