By Tommaso Morelato
Due to the strong bond we have with Italy, we at Toscana Divino have observed with deep concern the early development of the pandemic, for this reason, we had decided to close our restaurant before the Governor orders became official. The concern for the health of our guests, our employees, and our families was stronger than the business drive. We did not know what the future was going to hold, how hard the virus would have hit, and when, if at all, we would have been able to reopen.
But as our doors closed, another one opened: the opportunity to reflect on the how, one way or another, we are all interconnected, to other human beings and to the planet we inhabit. It was a dark time leading to bright revelations. We have always been fond of the concept “farm to table”, but, with Executive Chef Andrea Marchesin, we have decided to bring it steps further. We felt compelled to “sustain” local businesses, to provide healthier products and to create a closer connection to the food we are serving, to our suppliers, and to our guests. That’s why, when it was time for reopening Toscana Divino, many changes were implemented (and challenges arose). Complying to the state and local guidelines was the first, natural step: limiting our capacity to a 50%, ensuring a 6 ft distance back-to-back the chairs, measuring our employees’ temperature daily upon arrival, providing hand sanitizing and creating visual reminders and communications both for our guests and our employees were, among many others, the easier steps. The real challenge was understanding how to keep providing warm and exceptional service while wearing a mask and maintaining a safe distance. In the service industry, so used to human touch, smiles, and personal connections, it all felt unnatural in the beginning. However true hospitality is stronger than a hidden smile and our staff quickly realized how to convey that same warm attitude through their eyes and the tone of their voice. Another challenge was represented by imposing some of these measures on our guests: the need to limit parties to 4 persons, strictly enforcing wearing a mask whenever not seating, the impossibility of using the bar counter, we were afraid they would have all perceived as a different version of the word that is banned in the hospitality industry: “NO”. Fortunately, our guests understand that all these measures are necessary and implemented for their safety as well. Before the re-opening, I asked myself if there was anything else we could do to protect our employees, guests, and ourselves. That is when we brought in one additional safety measure: the Ozone machine, a powerful tool to purify the air quality and that, used at night, allows us to guarantee a safer environment. Times ahead are still going to be challenging, but we strongly believe in our “why”, and we know that providing the healthiest, most sustainable products in the safest environment possible is the right path to follow.
by Tommaso Morelato ES
The world has changed and is changing still. Yet we can’t fully comprehend the change that is occurring. There have been many people and institutions that have talked about this change, but their voices were never actually heard. It seemed more like background noise.
At least until now.
Now you can go anywhere and they’ll demonstrate how they are being sustainable or eco-friendly, but what does it really mean to be sustainable or eco-friendly? And why do so many people suddenly seem to care?
What we’re experiencing is the advent of a truly circular economy. This is a major upgrade from the traditional “take-make-waste” economy. It is a conscientious and cost-effective way to get the full use of what we as human beings consume, in all aspects of our lifestyles from what we eat to what we purchase to how we dispose of waste.
In the restaurant business, food is a responsibility. It is but one facet of our ultimate goal, which is to provide a memorable experience, but it is the most integral. We want to elevate our patrons’ awareness about food in the sense that they notice the difference between what is available at different locations, based on both seasonality and agricultural geography. This approach is what transforms a restaurant into an entity built on the foundation of wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle. We want our patrons to understand hospitality in a broader sense.
These days many restaurants use terms, such as, “farm to table,” or “sustainability” in trying to contribute to the circular economy, but what do those terms mean? They are like what we were taught in school to, “reuse, reduce, recycle.” They revere and reference a simpler time, prior to industrialization and mass corporate production, when farms were the primary sources of food, many family-run, with time to cultivate the land and produce something that was as meaningful as it is tasteful.
Imagine the average grocery experience where you buy a tomato that was packaged and sent from a different state. You cut a piece of it and its flavorless and mushy, but you don’t notice because this is what you’re accustomed to.
However, what if you had a tomato grown by a local farm? There is no fancy packaging and perhaps it is imperfectly shaped and there is a bit of dirt, of earth. But when you cut a piece and eat it, you immediately experience the fullness of its flavor. It’s sweet, but with a hint of sour and you can feel that and you just experienced something natural that was grown the old-fashioned way and you gained that knowledge. Being sustainable also extends to how we produce what we eat and what we drink.
In the world we live in today, we progress rapidly, but we don’t develop new ways to make the world a better place. Perhaps it’s time to return to our roots and do more things the old-fashioned way and cultivate unique products of quality and taste and use them to their full extent — starting with the food we eat, what we put in our bodies.
This may seem small for some, but for many, including all of us at Toscana Divino Hospitality Group, it’s critical because we believe that even something small can become bigger with time and dedication and these changes enable us to build a better future for ourselves and for future generations.
This is the time for resourcefulness!
You, our treasured clients, have expressed the same disappointment we’re feeling as the pause button is pressed on the indoor fine dining experience.
Yet we persevere in order to show how much we care about the well-being of our community — of you our clients and of our employees, partners, and friends.
With our indoor seating suspended, we want to offer the Toscana Divino experience to you in an innovative way through our new program, Resourceful Toscana.
We’re now able to deliver that experience to your home with the same care and quality you’ve experienced in our restaurants and provide nutritious meals made from the finest quality ingredients and built on the foundation of the Mediterranean Diet, considered among the healthiest in the world.
You may select from seven different boxes of exclusive ingredients — many locally sourced — to easily enjoy the pleasure of Italian cooking safely in your home.
And if you prefer not to cook, we can prepare the entire meal and safely deliver it curbside. For a variety of choices, we’ll be changing our menu offerings weekly.
We value your patronage of the Resourceful Toscana program because it provides us the opportunity to continue to support our community, employees, and partners, like our independent local farms.
View the weekly menu options below and to order CURBSIDE online click here
Resourceful Toscana Boxes