For more than 30 years, forward-thinking and innovation, to enhance customer health and wellness, have been critical components to the success of Silver Diner. Building on its history as leaders in implementing healthy eating with farm-to-table and flexitarian options, the restaurant has retooled for today’s lifestyle in the wake of COVID-19 using multiple dining protocols, safety practices and cutting-edge technology. To expand on its promise of something for everyone, the restaurant instituted multiple dining options from low- contact carhop carry-out to tented outdoor cafés. To make indoor dining comfortable again and to honor their commitment to employee and customer health and wellness, Silver Diner founders are having installed a unique, Veteran LED customized interior air filtration and purification system to make dining indoors as close you can come to outdoor dining.
This is the first time this comprehensive and customized system has been used in restaurants. The system includes germicidal UV-C light, bipolar ionization technology, and HEPA filtration. Air purifiers, mounted throughout each restaurant, work to continuously clean the air by using all three technologies simultaneously. Germicidal UV-C lights installed throughout the HVAC system work to disinfect air and surfaces inside the system. Heavy duty handheld UV-C light sterilizers are being used on high touch areas as part of the closing duties of the staff. At night, when the restaurant is closed, the interior is bathed in germicidal UV-C light to help kill pathogens in the air and sterilize surfaces. The system eliminates 99.9 percent of pathogens encountered.
“Our goal is to make indoor dining as safe as possible to outdoor dining,” said Silver Diner group Co-founder and President Robert Giaimo. “We are investing in this because we believe this is the restaurant model of the future. It maximizes the safety of our employees and our guests.” The system that has been created is a comprehensive package of the best products and technologies available for a restaurant. All 20 restaurants will have the system in place by August 12.
For more than a century, UV-C light has been used to clean air, surfaces, and water. It has been used effectively for years in hospitals, health care facilities, laboratories and schools, to name a few. On behalf of Signify, a lighting company, Boston University recently studied the impact of UV-C light on COVID-19 and determined that it definitely inactivated the virus.
Throughout the pandemic, Silver Diner and Silver, American Brasserie have provided customers with options. Implementing a robust takeout and delivery business at the onset, the restaurants then moved to establish outdoor dining at each of 20 restaurants. While some of its newer restaurants have built-in patios, most do not. Attractive tents with outdoor lighting and landscaping were installed at every location. A “Curbside Carhop” was created as well so customers had (and still have) the option of takeout, curbside carhop, delivery, indoor or outdoor dining.
Prior to being allowed to open indoors, the Silver Diner/Silver team began planning for the return of customers. They made a large investment in plexiglass and had it installed between tables and booths, they rearranged the restaurant to maintain distancing, they added hand sanitizer stations and removed all condiments and seasonings from tables. They had menus printed on anti-microbial paper. All of this in addition to the usual wearing of masks and gloves, temperature checks and minimum to no contact.
As it came time when limited customers could dine inside, the Silver Diner executive team researched the market to see if there was anything else they could do. “First of all, we wanted our employees to feel as safe as possible. Secondly, we wanted our customers to feel comfortable dining with us,” explained Giaimo. “We want to be their home away from home and we’re committed to doing whatever it takes to get them back.”
The system being installed at Silver Diner and Silver is by Veteran LED, a Richmond-based company founded by veteran Chris Rawlings. Rawlings served two tours in Iraq as a U.S. Marine and has an extensive background in lighting technology and building customized systems. Rawlings researched the top products on the market and created the unique, comprehensive package for the Silver Diner restaurant group. “We are excited to work with Silver and Silver Diner in becoming the first restaurant chain to implement this cutting-edge technology,” said Rawlings. “This pandemic is forcing businesses, engineers, architects and more, to rethink how proven technology and a little innovation can go a long way in helping to support a safer environment for all building occupants. Air quality and healthy environments are on the forefront of all of our minds right now. We’re obligated to use our resources and knowledge, based on scientific evidence, to effectively address this concern.”
Silver Diner has long been known as an industry leader. Before farm-to-table soared in popularity, Silver Diner implemented the practice at all its diners. More than three years ago, award-winning executive chef and co-founder (also winner of “Chopped”), Ype Von Hengst, added vegan, plant-based and gluten free menu items. This while still balancing “diner classics” for long-time loyal diner-lover customers. “Flexibility and adaptability have been key to our success,” added Giaimo.
This week, Silver Diner is opening its 18th restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia. The restaurant (4630 King Street, Alexandria) will feature an outdoor patio, full bar and will have the new HVAC/UV-C light system and all of the other COVID-19 practices in place. “We recognize that it’s an unusual time to open a restaurant,” Giaimo added. “But we also recognize that people want to dine out and have healthy menu options. We hope all of our efforts will bring our customers back to their home away from home.”