Surviving the odds: Opening a Scottsdale restaurant amid COVID
Opening a new restaurant under normal circumstances can be a challenge. And in this age of COVID may it may seem insurmountable.
My name is Laurent Halasz and I am the founder and owner of Francine, a new French inspired Mediterranean fine dining restaurant in the Luxury Wing of Scottsdale Fashion Square. I have opened and have assisted in the opening of a number of restaurants over the years. To say these are trying times for the restaurant industry would be an understatement.
Thanks to our customers and staff, we had a successful grand opening.
Our talented Executive Chef Brian Archibald was essential to that success. Chef Archibald is a Valley native with nearly three decades of culinary leadership experience. He oversaw the launch of Francine using that wealth of knowledge and his network of vendors and staff.
We were lucky. My heart breaks for other businesses that have not been as fortunate.
When I envisioned this restaurant, no one had heard of COVID. Then the world changed and it became apparent our intended April grand opening would have to wait.
Before our doors opened we closely monitored state and federal regulations and made sure that we could offer a fine dining experience in a safe, socially distanced setting. We didn’t lose hope.
And then Scottsdale Fashion Square was hit by looters. While our restaurant was undamaged, others weren’t as fortunate. Fashion Square remained closed until July. While the aftermath of the riots did cause extreme additional delays, we remained undeterred.
When we did open in mid-August, the reception we received from the community was beyond our expectations. It was also beyond the normal buzz that accompanies the opening of an upscale restaurant. People were thankful. They were grateful.
In many ways opening a restaurant in these times is an act of faith. A belief that we can all get beyond these trying times. We believed in the community. And the community, since our opening, has believed in us. Thank you.
Our dedicated staff continues to learn, grow, and adapt as circumstances change during COVID. And that process will continue beyond the pandemic.
I pray that other small business owners will find their own ways to succeed. These entrepreneurs are our best hope for re-starting our economy, for getting more people back to work, for getting our society back to normal.
Preparing French inspired Mediterranean cuisine is both a science and an art. So is opening a business in these times.
You must follow the science to make sure you operate in a safe, socially distanced, and responsible manner. You must also follow your heart and hope that hard work and dedication will triumph over adversity. We want to thank everyone who helped Francine get off the ground. And we hope for the best as so many others fight to stay in business or launch a new enterprise.
Not everyone will succeed but we salute all those who try.
As French novelist George Sand one said, “Les chefs-d’oeuvre ne sont jamais que des tentatives heureuses,” which means “Masterpieces are never anything else but happy attempts.”
Laurent Halasz is owner and founder of FRANCINE Restaurant.