South Bay ceramic lounge creates safe environment for high-touch activity to remain open during COVID-19 pandemic

WILLOW GLEN, Calif. (KGO) -- As more and more Bay Area businesses reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, we are taking a look at how some of them are making changes to help keep their guests safe.

In our effort to help build a better Bay Area, ABC7 News South Bay Community Journalist Dustin Dorsey went on a tour of Petroglyph Ceramic Lounge in Willow Glen, Calif. to see what changes are being made and how the COVID-19 shutdowns impacted the gym.

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Dorsey spoke with Petroglyph and Glow President and Founder Jennifer Rubin while on the tour.

How has the business changed?

"Usually the store is packed, now we can only operate it at about 30%, if even," Rubin said. "So, already revenue is kind of capped. We have 28 years of customers that have been coming here. Thinking about how to make them safe and still be able to do an activity that they enjoy, while coming up with the protocols and how to do the brushes and how to do the paint, was important. We've certainly been through hard times before. This is different for sure."

What new safety measures are in place?

"You come, choose your pottery, paint the piece and we fire it for you," Rubin said. "Petroglyph and Glow are both very high touch and high involvement. I feel like I built a high-touch business on purpose. I love the tactile creative part of life. Now, we have to restrict it in a number of different ways. First thing we ask when people come in is to wash their hands so we know that they're just clean from the start. Any of the tables with paper on them are for you to sit at. We have some reserved to have more spaciousness between them. We've isolated a set of all the tools you need for painting. This lets us clean exactly what was used and keep it separate from all the tables. You can also just buy your own brushes. Normally, you would take the paints to your table and you could squirt them out as you needed. Now, we put it on a plate that is disposable and I fill the paints for you and bring them to the table. If you need more, we just come and refill it for you. As far as the items go, we ask that you not touch them as you're looking. When you're finally clear what you want, pick that piece up and take it to your table. One of the things that the customers don't see is after they finished painting, we clear the station. We come to the back and we have a whole protocol of how to wash things down."

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How do customers feel?

"Oh, it's quite different," Petroglyph customer Mike Tejera said. "The hours are different, so you get three-hour intervals at this particular store on Lincoln. They grab the paints for us, they made sure we were wearing a mask and we had to wash our hands coming in and going out. It gave us a chance to leave the house to do something outside of the home and it was safe and we feel good about it."

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How have employees handled it?

"I still feel like the concept is viable," Rubin said. "The whole idea of experiential right now seems to be more popular. We were able to hold on to all the employees, everybody's eager to come back. There's a bit of, 'well, how many hours am I going to get because I'm making a lot of money on unemployment right now'. So that's been an interesting conversation to have. I didn't know what was going to happen on the other side of the shutdown. So, the reception has been really nice to feel in the community for sure. Come back. We're open and it's working really nicely so far."

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