Thank you. Everyone. It is impossible to list every person.
We have completed the fall semester during the most difficult conditions in our 30 years and can proudly say it was an overwhelming success. But it took everyone’s help. Students, Wesleyan staff and administrators, Covid testing staff, the weather and most importantly our staff at Wes Wings and Red & Black Cafe.
When we abruptly closed last March there were so many uncertainties and how and when we might reopen was not clear. It took a tremendous amount of planning and hard work with our staff to create a system that was both safe and efficient while maintaining our menu and overall appeal that has made both of our restaurants so popular over the decades.
We told our customers the best way to help us come back from the financial hardship of last spring was to buy wings, mozzarella sticks, cookie dough, panini and smoothies. And you didn’t disappoint. You wore your masks and waited in long lines and your patience and cooperation contributed to this semester’s success. While shortened by several weeks, the fall semester was one of our most successful ever. October was the busiest month either location has ever experienced. And while we still have not fully recovered financially, we have made significant gains and both restaurants are on sound footing heading into the extended winter break.
The spring semester will look similar to the fall. We will still have our plexiglass. The doors will be open. The masks will be on. We’ll continue to kindly ask “if you have your food, could you please exit the waiting area so others can enter” The Patio Grill will return when the weather is warm enough. We look forward to expanding our specials and yes we are even thinking about Pail-A-Palooza and LobsterFest.
Please be safe during the winter break. We will enjoy a little break and time to rest and all of us will be ready to do it all again in February.
It’s official. We think. Finally. After a few last minute changes due to new guidance from the state of CT and the university, we are planning to re-open both WesWings and The Red & Black Cafe on Monday September 7th.
Monday September 7th is the first day most students will be out of quarantine and we’ll be ready to welcome everyone back. Like everything else, things will be a little different. As our earlier updates have mentioned, we will not have any indoor dining. Everything will be packaged to-go. Red & Black Cafe will have Zingle text ordering available and limited outdoor seating. At WesWings we’re adding more picnic tables outside and a new Patio Grill that will serve daily specials including burgers, vegan Beyond burgers and much more.
We are putting in place safety features including Plexiglas, contactless payments for meal plan IDs, separate entry and exits and more signage then we ever thought possible.
Both locations will accept meal plan points, Middletown cash and credit cards. There will be no cash accepted this year. In addition, we have made the decision to restrict our customers to the Wesleyan community ONLY. Specifically students, faculty and staff who are a part of the university’s Covid testing program. Eventually we may develop a curbside pickup plan for non university customers, but for now we’re trying to limit the number of outside visitors and customers.
In the coming weeks we’ll provide more updates to help you better understand our new systems. Where the lines are and the easiest ways to order.
Last spring we told you we were not going anywhere and we meant it. The past five months have been hard on our staff but everyone is eager to get back work. We still have a long way to go but we are determined to make this, our 30th year in business, a memorable year.
To all our customers, employees and the Wesleyan community, we want to let everyone know the latest on our restaurants, employees and plans for the next several months.
We have been closed since the beginning of spring break opening for only one day which we described in a previous post. We have decided, baring an emergency situation that would require our services, to remain closed for the rest of the spring semester. Under current conditions it does not make sense to reopen. Our staff will finish the shutdown process in our kitchens over the next few weeks.
We have been paying our non student full and part-time staff while we have been shutdown. However with the recent passage of the stimulus package, we will be making changes. The new law provides an additional $600/week of unemployment benefits on top of regular state benefits. After consulting with our staff, we believe that it will be more beneficial for them to receive these benefits than remaining on active payroll. While the new law goes into effect immediately, we will continue to pay our staff until April 4th to make sure they are financially secure until the new plan is implemented. We will continue to provide all employee benefit programs including medical, dental and retirement. This is a temporary shutdown and ALL employees are expected to return when we reopen in September. Our primary concern has and will remain the well being of our staff.
While the recent stimulus bill will help our staff and relieve us of some payroll expenses, our restaurants will still be under considerable financial stress. We have made several moves to insure that our employees are provided for and all our vendors are paid. We are counting on our customers to support us in the fall. We’ll need everyone of you buying wings, mozz sticks, penne vodka and pails.
We are incredibly sad that we will not have the many spring events that we all enjoy. Pail-a-Palooza, Lobsterfest and senior night dinner to name a few. We will do everything we can to make it up especially for the class of 2020.
One way you can support our efforts is to purchase a gift card. This will help us with our immediate financial needs to pay our staff and other expenses. It gives you the opportunity to get some great food when our restaurants reopen. We are thankful for everyone’s support during this difficult time. #GoWes
Today we opened the Red & Black Cafe to do our part helping feed students as they were leaving campus. While we are not the primary campus dining service provider, we have always felt committed to serving the Wesleyan community no matter the circumstances. Snow storms, power outages etc. We have always been there as long as we believed we could do so without endangering our staff or customers.
Today was a challenge. We began the day short staffed trying to prep both the dining area to accommodate a takeout only setup as well as our menu. When we opened our registers, we found the Blackboard system down making it difficult to ascertain if students still had funds or not. We assured our customers that everyone would be fed regardless of ability to pay. Later as more people came in, we quickly moved to a text order only system to create more social distancing as the increased number of waiting customers began to create anxiety amongst both staff and customers.
By mid afternoon we learned of the all campus email encouraging students to leave ASAP and/or not attempt returning to campus at this time. In addition several of our suppliers informed us of problems they were facing.
As we have said, staying open to feed our student customers has always been a priority. Unfortunately the conditions, the safety of our staff and the reality of what we are capable of, have made us come to the conclusion that we must for the time being close both locations.
As we have previously announced, all of our non student full and part time employees will continue to be paid their regular wages up to 40 hours/week until our regularly scheduled summer break.
We have not made the decision to permanently close for the semester. We will continue to maintain both locations. This will allow us to quickly reopen and provide service if needed. We are waiting to see how many students will remain on campus and what the guidance from government officials will be in the coming weeks.
Please follow us on our various social media platforms as well as our website for updates.
We appreciate everything this community has done for us. We are so lucky to be part of the Wesleyan family. We are heartbroken to make this decision but know it is the right thing to do.