RRC Culinary Restaurant ‘Jane’s’ reopens with protocols in place

By Colton Toews

Working at Jane’s Restaurant has been a hands-on experience for students for a while, and since it’s reopening on Sept. 3, that experience comes with a lot of soap and water.

“It feels like we spend five hours a day washing our hands,” said Robert Ofiaza, a server at the restaurant.

Ofiaza, a 20-year-old hospitality student, said the daily routine in the restaurant changed with COVID-19 restrictions in place.

“We even limit our contact during staff meals. We’re only allowed to have four people at a table.”

Students complete a list of 35 opening duties every morning, most of which are focused on proper sanitation throughout the restaurant. Ofiaza said he also switches masks every four hours to prevent lingering bacteria.

Ofiaza said he originally wanted to become a flight attendant, but due to COVID-19’s effect on the airline industry, he plans to work in restaurants for the next few years. Nonetheless, he said he loves it.

“I’m an extroverted person, so I enjoy helping the customers,” he said. “As long as you’re making customers smile, you’re doing a great job. The pandemic shouldn’t hurt customer experience.”

“I like to joke around with the customers. I ask if they want pepper, and then twist the top of the pepper shaker over their plate.”

Jane’s Restaurant in the Exchange District reopened on Sept. 3, 2020./COLTON TOEWS

Cassandra Watson, a hospitality instructor, works alongside the students at Jane’s. She said there’s always been a big emphasis on cleanliness and sanitation in the restaurant. 

“Now we say wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands and don’t touch your mask,” Watson said.

She said the students find the work rewarding. 

“You can see what you learn in class manifest,” said Watson. “Interacting with the guests improves confidence. You get instant gratification for making a great guest experience.”

She said English is a second language for many students and they learn quicker as serving requires verbal communication.

“Wearing a mask makes it harder [to communicate],” she said.

Ofiaza said wearing a mask get in the way of her great customer experience. 

“Talking to customers with a mask is difficult, but you can adapt by speaking a little louder. If you’re telling a customer about the cassoulet and have to repeat yourself over and over, you can lose confidence,” he said. 

Jane’s is open for lunch until Dec. 17 and open for dinner from Sept. 24 until Dec. 17.