Take a Seat at the Beauty Shop 

The doors at Karen Carrier’s restaurant are open.

  • The Beauty Shop Restaurant/Facebook
Seeing the doors open at the Beauty Shop restaurant is a beautiful sight for hungry patrons of the Cooper-Young restaurant.

“We’re ready,” says chef/owner Karen Carrier. “We opened up Sunday. It was wild. Monday night we had a great night. A lot of reservations tonight. I’m shocked.”

Some of the staff “are just coming back. They haven’t been in the kitchen for three months. They’re acclimating. They’re doing great.”

Carrier closed the dining room, but she never closed her business when the pandemic hit. She’s been doing takeout and delivery.

When Mayor Jim Strickland announced businesses had to close, Carrier went to work. “I started a GoFundMe page for all my employees. That was the night I started it because I knew what was coming down the pike. That night I also called a meeting for Friday.”

Sixty-five employees — from all Carrier’s restaurants and Another Roadside Attraction catering company — came in, she says. “I had two computers set up at the bar. We basically made sure everybody applied for unemployment first right then and there. At that time, there was no stimulus. I wanted to make sure everybody was going to get unemployment. Some people didn’t have computers.”

She and chef Shay Widmer then were “the only ones cooking in the restaurant.”

And, she says, “We didn’t let anybody in.”

Shea Grauer and Scott Taylor did the curbside and deliveries. Dana Baldwin eventually went to work in the kitchen.

Those were the only staff members allowed in the restaurant for three months, Carrier says.

She didn’t rush into opening the dining room. “I didn’t want to open for the first phase ‘cause I didn’t think the city was ready. I wanted to wait for the second phase.”

They opened with Sunday brunch on June 7th. “The last week we decided not to do any to-go orders so we could get the restaurant open Sunday.”

Being closed “was insane is what it was,” Carrier says. “We did everything. We cleaned. We washed. I had a company come in and completely tear that kitchen apart. When we came back, it was like we had a new kitchen.”
click to enlarge Karen Carrier
  • Karen Carrier

They now are open for dinner Monday through Saturday with brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Carrier isn’t ready to serve lunch. “I’ll open for lunch whenever I feel that everybody is back to some sort of normal. I don’t know what that means.”

She’s utilizing all of her space. She’s serving the Beauty Shop menu at the Beauty Shop as well as Bar DKDC, the Back Do at Mi Yard patio behind the Beauty Shop, and on the front patio. “That way, we can spread out and seat approximately what we could basically seat in the Beauty Shop if we didn’t have social distancing. It works out really well.”

They have a stand outside with an umbrella over it. “I have a thermal thermometer. I take everybody’s temperature. And we have X’s all the way down the sidewalk in yellow day-glow tape showing where everyone should stand apart.”

The dining rooms have been adapted. “We have on masks and gloves. We bring everything on trays. We don’t put anything on the table with our hands. All our silverware is in paper containers. They’re taped.”

Customers pick up their own plates from the trays. And they have “yellow tape on the communal table that shows six feet, yellow tape on the bar. People sit on the two ends of the bar.”

As to what it’s like to be a restaurateur during a pandemic, Carrier, who has been in the restaurant business since 1980 in New York, says, “I think you have to be resilient. And I think you have no other choice but to roll with the punches, unless you choose to say, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ My thing was I could have closed down and not dealt with anything, but I wanted to, first of all, keep cooking so people could come and get the Beauty Shop food. And I thought it also kept the Beauty Shop alive. I wanted to save my business the best I could.”

It was mandatory that all employees had to be tested before they came back to work, Carrier says, “I feel like if I wear my mask and my gloves and change them and be diligent, I’m doing the best I can.”

And, she says, “I respect everybody’s wishes. Everybody has to live their life the way they want to live it. I had to keep working ’cause I have to keep [the restaurant] for my staff. That’s all I know. That’s what I do. So they’d have a job to come back to.”

She eventually will open Mollie Fontaine Lounge, but for now she’s concentrating on the Beauty Shop. “I’m trying to get back on our feet.”

People will know where to find her, Carrier says. “I’m here every night. I’m not leaving. And we’re just going to make it work.”

The Beauty Shop is at 966 Cooper Street, (901) 272-7111.

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