During the past year, small businesses have had the monumental challenge of overcoming and adapting to new health, social, and regulatory standards — none more so than bars and restaurants, which have faced the brunt of lockdown and government restrictions.
While dining outdoors is common for establishments in tropical locales, getting the snowblower out at 6,000ft to serve loyal customers is the kind of grit and resolve reserved for only the most die-hard of establishments. Cottonwood Restaurant & Bar in Truckee, California has continued serving customers on its outside deck overlooking the Sierra mountains on weekends since indoor dining has been closed since November due to local restrictions. Owner Robert Green says that even during the winter months, customers have been dining outside on his famous steaks and grills with a bottle of red wine, dressed in their parkas and snow boots.
But while many customers don’t mind the bracing mountain air, creating a safer indoor environment has been at the top of Green’s agenda. In addition to installing Plexiglass between the tables, basic PPE, hand sanitization, and distanced seating, Green was keen to go the extra mile to make his customers and staff feel safe and secure. “I was introduced to VIRUSKILLER™ clean air technology, and after taking a look at it, I was blown away by the sophistication of these devices.”
Complete indoor air safety
With Cottonwood shut down on and off throughout 2020, and the winter months wreaking havoc on small businesses, investing in this technology was a no-brainer for Green. The building is one of the oldest ski lodges in the US, having been hand-built from salvaged railroad ties in 1928. Featuring a cosy fireplace room and bar area that are both separated from the main dining area, Green purchased five VIRUSKILLER™ units to suit the various spaces in his restaurant.
A VK 401 was installed in the fireplace room and another in the bar area to provide complete protection to customers and staff working in these more secluded sections, while a VK 103 tower unit delivers clean, decontaminated air to the main dining area. Two smaller personal devices were installed to protect bar staff as they work behind the counter. “We’re aware that an asymptomatic customer could be sitting at a table a few feet away from other diners, so we feel more comfortable knowing the VIRUSKILLER™ units will help reduce any potential risk of cross-infection.”
Reassurance for staff and customers
Upon entering the restaurant, customers and staff are greeted by a sanitization station and a large sign announcing the VIRUSKILLER™ installation to provide as much information on the technology as possible. According to Green, Cottonwood’s staff are relieved at the added layer of protection. “They’re serving much of the general public during their shifts, so knowing that VIRUSKILLER™ will decontaminate any viruses and filter harmful particles to protect their health and safety while at work gives them a great deal of comfort,” he says.
However, it’s not only staff who feel reassured — customers are intrigued and excited about the devices in the space, humming quietly in the corners and proudly bearing the VIRUSKILLER™ badge. With the global pandemic dominating people’s everyday lives, there is more awareness around indoor air safety and the various kinds of technology on the market, with many of Cottonwood’s customers taking a keen interest in it.
Bring clean air back inside
As infections continue to decrease in the county, Green hopes that restrictions will allow him to initially re-open Cottonwood at 25% capacity and welcome loyal customers back indoors. “As soon as we can re-open, which we’re hoping will be before the spring, our customers will be able to experience the VIRUSKILLER™ technology for themselves and dine inside again on our famous brunches, lunches, and dinners,” he says.
Thereafter, Green is optimistic that VIRUSKILLER™ will continue to keep the standard of air in his venue at the highest possible levels long after vaccines have been administered and the most immediate risk is alleviated. “Even at 6,000ft, it’s reassuring to see the community taking interest in the quality of indoor air — I’m sure this technology is going to become part of our everyday lives.”