Square One Concepts: What’s on the Plate Is Serving Customers

The coronavirus pandemic has brought challenges, but the ability to adapt and be creative even when you’re in a corner is the hallmark of small business

by S. Barrett Rinzler

Square One Concepts, like many in the restaurant business, has run the gamut during the pandemic. We were shut down, then opened with limited-menu curbside takeout at some locations, then opened all locations for takeout and now we’ve opened our dining rooms at limited capacity. It’s been a roller coaster. And I hope it’s something that never happens again. It’s basically forced us to change our business model overnight. Takeout-only has gone well, but it’s maybe 10 percent to a high end of 15 percent of our typical income. It’s tough.

Our team has had to adjust quickly, act quickly, then revise, adjust and act again, while double checking health measures to ensure our employees and guests are safe and comfortable, especially now with dine-in services resuming.

Before we reopened our dining rooms, we contacted restaurant friends in Georgia and Texas on what they were already seeing a week or two weeks ahead of us. We’re working hard to stay ahead of this as much as possible, but you don’t really know until you’ve been through it.

We’re excited to have our doors back open. At reduced capacity, we still feel somewhat fortunate because our 12 Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers have large dining rooms and most have large patios where some guests feel more comfortable outdoors. At Bourbon & Bones, we’ve been able to modify seating, and it still feels comfortable, not at all empty or like something is missing.

If there is anything positive here, it’s that it’s given us time to rethink and get creative. We believe the landscape will continue to change. We won’t permanently close any restaurants; instead, we’ll create new concepts or revise services and reopen in September. We’re even considering new, small-scale, neighborhood-driven, less “sports-heavy” spots. We’ve always been aggressive with expansion. Last year, we had five restaurants coming on line at this time. We thank our lucky stars we have only one project on the books now — a second location of Bourbon & Bones at San Tan Village in Gilbert. It was slated to open in September; instead, we’re hoping for October but are prepared for January if necessary.

It’s all about taking the public’s “temperature” to check their comfort level to return to restaurants (no pun intended!). We’ve prepared our staff to empathize, be patient; there will be highly opinionated guests and then those who simply want to escape their homes for a meal out. We’re all in with a 10-point employee health check before every shift, masks, gloves and disposable menus at all Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers locations and even washable menus at Bourbon & Bones. Safety is our No. 1 priority.

In spite of everything, I think the great thing about being a small business and an independent operator is our ability to read and react quickly to ever-changing forces. Major corporations are challenged to change business on the fly. Small business can react and change a business model overnight. We’ve had to do exactly that! It’s shown us that we can overcome anything that comes our way. Be creative, adapt and that’s how we’ll succeed; and if we don’t succeed, we’ve failed in our ability to do that.

Open for takeout and dine-in services:

Bourbon & Bones
4200 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
(480) 629-4922

Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers
12 Valley locations

S. Barrett Rinzler is the founder and CEO of Square One Concepts. The Scottsdale-based restaurant group’s concepts in Arizona are Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers, Bourbon & Bones, Wasted Grain, The Funky Monk (Tucson) and Famous 48.

SHORT RIB
(Bourbon & Bones)

12oz. short ribs, mashed potatoes, fire-roasted tomato

$40

OPEN PIT BURGER (Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers) 

Cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, sugar-cured bacon, onion ring, BBQ sauce

$14.50

CHILI MMMAC
(Cold Beers & Cheeseburger)

Cheese blend, beef chili, toasted bread crumbs

$14.50

 

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