Rehab Burger Therapy in Scottsdale, along with many other restaurants across the nation, is learning, growing and evolving as the pandemic runs its course.

Small businesses and restaurants alike were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing them to change the way that business would normally function. According to the U.S 2020 Census, 30.2% of businesses have seen a large negative effect by the pandemic. Rehab Burger Therapy, a laid-back bar and restaurant with an extensive menu, has survived by quickly putting in place new protocols to protect the health of their customers and staff.

Co-owner and manager of Rehab Burger Therapy, Denise Nelson, said the pandemic couldn’t have hit at a worse time, striking at the height of the tourist season in March and April when tens of thousands of tourists crowd Scottsdale for Spring Training, and Spring Break.  “In those six weeks, we will do more business than ¾ of the year. So, we were in our crazy season when the pandemic started and then we went to take out only and completely shut down the restaurant.” Rehab Burger Therapy generally did not provide takeout because of how busy the restaurant was, and as Nelson said, “being a burger place, it is not the best food to travel. It is not like a pizza, it will continue to cook.”

Rehab switched overnight from full dine-in service to seating with 50% or less occupancy.   Recently numbers have begun to increase, but business is nowhere what it was like pre-pandemic.  Nelson said it’s loyal customers who order out that has made the difference. The pandemic impacted Rehab Burger Therapy forcing them to resort to Grubhub and food delivery services.

Jessie Hedeby, a host at Rehab Burger Therapy, said “we are really strict on implementing safety. We clean everything, make sure people wear masks and we wear masks. In terms of the bar, every party needs to be separated by a seat. We take it seriously.” Hedeby began working there in June and described the changes that have put in place since starting, “when I started, masks weren’t mandated and things were pretty normal. Within two weeks, masks were mandatory and a lot of rules and regulations were being put in place.”

As for the future, Rehab Burger Therapy has seen positive responses to using the QR code to access the menu, limiting the number of things on the table tops, and continuing to spend extra time making sure everything is wiped down sufficiently before new guests are seated.

Rehab Burger Therapy co-owner, Nelson, said 2020 has been a tough year, but it’s her customers that made it possible for her and her staff to survive, “I appreciate and thank everyone for supporting our local community and our local restaurant. It’s a big deal when there are so many options out there. That when they decide where they are going to spend their money at and they spend it at our [restaurant], they depend on that to survive. So, I would thank everyone.”