With the upcoming Yellow Phase kicking off this weekend, King of Prussia Town Center has been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to reopen their restaurants and retail shops. This is just the first step in achieving what most are calling, ‘the new normal’ when it comes to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“Yellow Phase definitely marks an important milestone,” says Allie Seifert, a spokesperson for the King of Prussia Town Center. “It really allows businesses and individuals to move forward and plan for what a post-COVID world could look like, and can also be really valuable in helping to stimulate economic vitality. Restaurants and retail, especially in the last ten years, have become this lifeblood of the King of Prussia community, so I think we’ll really start to see this emergence of sanctioned re-openings. I think it will be slow in the beginning, and I think people are really finding their footing with what the Yellow Phase will look like. There’s been a lot of moments where there have been pivots that have had to take place quickly, so I think people are operationally equipped to really take this on [and] they’re doing so in a very mindful and planned way.”
Safety, of course, is at the forefront of everyone’s minds when beginning to reopen partially for the Yellow Phase.
“At KOP Town Center specifically, we’ve been working really closely with King of Prussia District [and] Upper Merion Township. They’ve been extremely diligent in just expediting a lot of processes associated with this, like walk-throughs for different organizations and groups and even more than that just to accommodate changes during this new phase,” explains Seifert. “The safety and the health of the community remains the top priority, and I think that’s why we’ll see this kind of roll out slowly. I think that people just want to make sure while the economic benefit is there, it has to be done right so that we can continue to move forward and look toward the Green Phase. I think Yellow is really the critical moment where we are allowed to start seeing if we’re ready to emerge and ready for what’s next. I think people have to proceed cautiously but it really is a positive step.”
To implement specific strategies when it comes to outdoor seating and restaurants, all tenants of the King of Prussia Town Center will be implementing safety precautions. Employees will have their temperatures taken and will wear masks and gloves. Tables will be limited to a certain number of guests (as will the restaurant capacity as a whole) and there will still be at least six feet between tables. There will also be tape placed on the floor and sidewalk to help direct foot traffic safely to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and customers are also required to wear a mask when entering, exiting and moving throughout the eateries. At the table, masks are okay to come off, but it will still feel a bit different. There will be no condiments at tables, they will be given only by request from a server and there will also be no re-useable menus (if there are re-useable ones they will be heavily sanitized.) Restaurants are also still steering clear of buffet-style anything as well as refillable beverage stations, and if you’re planning on going to the bar, you must be seated, not standing, at least six feet apart.
“It’s going to be a different experience for sure, but it’s a step in the right direction and a way for us to measure what works and really make sure that people are staying safe,” adds Seifert. “We at the Town Center have been working really closely with each and every tenant just to make sure that they’re safely and successfully positioned to make the transition. For instance, for restaurants, we’re working to expand their outdoor dining footprint and for those who didn’t have existing outdoor space, we’re even working to create new space within the Center and working with the Township to make sure it’s all in accordance with any guidelines they have to expand outdoor seating. [Things like] adding new barriers in and putting tents up just to make it feel like that restaurant experience again even though it’s limited to outdoor.”
The first tenant opening up eatery wise will be Founding Farmers (255 Main St Suite 180) at 8 a.m. on Friday June, 5. Other establishments will begin to follow suit soon after, including retailers as well.
It is going to feel a bit foreign at first, but the economic repercussions of the Yellow Phase in King of Prussia will certainly help the community that is built on shops and restaurants. The Town Center is also still planning on their live music series to remain virtual for the time being until it becomes safe enough for large groups to converse outdoors as well. Right now, their main priority is getting the Yellow Phase up and running for retail stores and especially for restaurants offering outdoor seating.
King of Prussia’s Yellow Phase is going to be a guide for what the Yellow Phase could look like when outdoor dining and more in-contact retail experiences come to the city of Philadelphia. With so many uncertainties still brewing in the air, one aspect of the pandemic that we can hold onto is the ability to adapt.
“Coronavirus just impacted so many businesses and industries, but the restaurant industry took a devastating hit,” says Seifert. “I think more than ever we’ve seen so much strength and resilience from this industry just in terms of their creativity and their ability to quickly pivot. New ordinances were implemented like to-go cocktails and new offerings—for instance, Founding Farmers completely reorganized their entire structure to offer an entire market and grocery with over 500 items—that kind of stuff. But they’re eager to get back to their way of business and they really do breathe life into the KOP community and the Town Center, and I just think it’s a really exciting step to look at what the new normal looks like. We’re really looking forward to being able to execute on this.”
For more information on the Yellow Phase and King of Prussia Town Center, visit kingofprussia-towncenter.com