When the COVID-19 pandemic left restaurants across the country hovering on the brink of bankruptcy, the Tavern 52 restaurant survived on its takeout business. “Takeout has been the consistent savior of our business,” said restaurant owner Charles Sharp, who lost 53 percent of his business to the pandemic in 2020.
Eventually, when the restaurant was permitted to offer in-dining at between 25-to-50 percent of its 192-seat capacity, there was still no increase in sales. “People were still uncomfortable dining in a closed environment because they were concerned about the quality of the air that is being circulated,” he explained. “So, even though we were able to increase our capacity, our in-dining business was horrible.”
With the recent installation of new VIDASHIELD UV24 Air Purification Systems in the restaurant, Sharp believes he will be able to bring his in-dining business back to its previously robust pre-COVID level. The in-ceiling system from Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Solutions improves indoor air quality by using proven ultraviolet light (UV-C) air cleaning technology to continuously clean and reduce the level of viruses, bacteria, and fungi in a room’s air. The system operates by drawing air into a patented self-contained chamber hidden in the ceiling plenum where the air is treated safely with ultraviolet light air-cleaning technology. The cleaner air is then circulated back into the room.
The 2’ x 4’ systems are installed in the ceiling above the 3,000 sq. ft. main dining room with an additional unit installed in a smaller dining room. As word spread about the restaurant’s new air purification systems, business began to pick up and within three weeks after the systems were installed, Sharp said the restaurant’s in-dining business increased by 40 percent.
As pandemic restrictions on capacity ease and Sharp is able to add more dine-in customers, he expects his business to return to 82 percent of its pre-COVID sales during 2021.
“The air purification systems are bringing people here,” said Sharp. “(Customers) say they feel that the air is fresher and cleaner. They feel safer.”
His employees also feel safer as they mingle with customers, making the dine-in experience more pleasurable for everyone. “My employees love (the new air purification systems) because they know they are working in a safer environment.”
Installing the new Armstrong systems has changed “the playing field” at the restaurant, according to Sharp. “I now have better air circulation and cleaner air within my playing field which is where my customers sit and where my employees work.”