How ‘ISSO’, the innovative quick service restaurant, is adapting to a post COVID19 world
When ‘ISSO’ first announced itself on Colombo’s restaurant scene, it turned heads for all the right reasons. Till recent times, budding restaurateurs have always aimed to have fatter menus, while serving a variety of dishes that sometimes criss-crossed continents. But ISSO sought to turn that formula on its head, choosing to focus on one thing instead: prawns.
Be it their delicious batter fried prawns or sweet potato fries, Colombo’s hungry diners (or ISSO-heads, if you could call them that) fell in love with ISSO’s menu from day one. With long queues forming outside their doors every day, ISSO moved to a larger, spacious, prominent location to cater to their growing demand.
Similar to all other restaurants in the city, ISSO too had to close its doors for nearly two months from March 2020 onwards due to the outbreak of COVID19 in the country.
“But we are back now, and we have implemented a whole host of hygiene and safety measures to ensure the safety of both our customers and team members”Apinash Sivagumaaran
While the restaurant has not commenced welcoming diners yet, ISSO’s popular delivery service is up and running as normal
The changes in internal operating processes are comprehensive. To begin with, the entire restaurant will be disinfected and the staff will have their temperature checked twice, every day — once in the morning and again at the end of the day. “If anyone is feeling unwell, they will be asked to take time off until they feel better, be it a week or a month” emphasised Apinash.
Apinash’s team is fond of their open kitchen. While the store-rooms and freezers were already HACCP compliant, the new changes are expected to elevate ISSO’s standards to a whole new level.
- The floor is marked with tapes indicating a 1 meter space in-between to enable social distancing.
- Every team member has been provided with masks, disposable gloves, hair nets or caps, and safety boots.
- All equipment is sanitized before each shift, and everyone has been instructed to wash their hands every thirty minutes.
- Every box, carton, or bag entering the building is disinfected and left out in a designated area.
- ISSO has even dedicated one staff member during each shift to sanitise surfaces and door handles.
In their quest to ensure that ISSO’s premises remain as clean, safe, and hygienic as possible, Sivagumaaran and his team are leaving no stone unturned. The measures are strict, but are in line with global practices, sometimes even better. “All vegetables are washed in salt water and vegetable sanitiser for a minimum of two hours. Only after that will they be cleaned, chopped, and portioned into zip-lock bags. We store all frozen seafood at temperatures below -18 degrees Celsius as well” Apinash said.
These new operating measures do add an extra layer of complexity to ISSO’s operations, but Apinash is looking at it as an investment that would pay off and is obsessively revisiting these procedures for improvement.
“The restaurant business is all about trust. When you order something from a restaurant, what you are essentially doing is conveying that you trust the restaurant to have followed all safety and hygiene protocols. You trust that the restaurant will serve you a meal that is delicious, filling and offer great value for money. With COVID19, there is a lot of uncertainty out there. People are not sure if it is safe to order from restaurants again. This is our way of telling our customers that they can continue to trust us, as they always have”
Apinash concludes, optimistically. He is proud of his team, and of what they have achieved so far. Emboldened by their new safety and hygiene protocols, Team ISSO is ready to meet the challenge of driving Colombo ‘pissu over isso’ once again.