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Business As Unusual: Farmer’s Table

Mitchell Robbins and Joey GiannuzziLifestyle continues to reach out to businesspeople all over South Florida to ask questions about the impact COVID-19 has had on their businesses—and what the future holds. Today, we check in with Joey Giannuzzi, co-owner of Farmer’s Table in Boca Raton.

Business backstory: The healthy, eco-conscious concept launched by Giannuzzi (pictured, right) and fellow co-owner Mitchell Robbins (left) in Boca Raton has been a culinary hit since opening its doors in 2013. Both of the Farmer’s Table locations (there’s also one in North Palm Beach) encompass some 20,000 square feet, giving the restaurants more seating capacity while maintaining social distancing. But it’s the responsibly sourced ingredients, chemical/pesticide/hormone-free proteins, and host of creative, nutritious offerings that continue to draw loyal diners. (dinefarmerstable.com)

The impact: “Back in March, we had to lay off 260 people [combined] at both restaurants. With the 50 percent occupancy allowed in restaurants, and the way the spike continued here in Florida, we’ve only been able to rehire about 80 of those employees [as of press time]. People are still booking events in our spaces—however, we’re quite below where we were at this same time last year. People are banking on the fact that we’ll get through this; we’re already seeing bookings fill up toward the end of this year, and into next year, [with events] like weddings and bar mitzvahs.”

Moving forward: “We’ve learned that we’ve assembled a really great team at Farmer’s Table; our overall camaraderie has been really strong. In the front of the house, everyone has been doing their part to help to run food, get drinks on the tables and take care of our guests in the safest way possible. Meanwhile, in the back of the house, everyone has been pitching in to help one another. Teamwork has been amplified. We know that we’re going to see ourselves through to the other side of this and do it together.”

COVID insights: “During downtime, I’ve learned the importance of keeping positivity going throughout the team over the days and months. My mentor once said that as managers, we’re both coaches and cheerleaders. Times will arise where you have to be a coach; in other times, you’ll have to lead [with enthusiasm]—and that shifts back and forth. I’ve learned the importance of being both. Right now, I’m being a cheerleader. I’m trying to keep my team going and drive home the message that, someday, we’ll all be able to look back and say, ‘Remember when?’”

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