SAFER is RA's safety and wellbeing platform in response to COVID-19. SAFER encompasses all health and safety measures as well as engaging communications to keep everyone informed and confident. SAFER keeps health and safety top of mind as we continue to deliver hospitality excellence to our clients and guests and remain a safe place to work for our team members.

An interview with Dr. Allen Sills, Chief Medical Officer for the National Football League

On December 17th, R/A's COVID-19 Safety Czar, Anthony Capozzoli, conducted an interview with Dr. Allen Sills, Chief Medical Officer for the National Football League. This interview was done for the R/A SAFER Advisory Board and R/A, but the information was so valuable we wanted to ensure we shared some of the key takeaways with our fellow restaurateurs, and the general public. 

Question (Q). What's been the most helpful with enforcing COVID-19 prevention measures?
Answer (A). 90% compliance is not good enough, or acceptable. We need to have 100% compliance with the prevent measures.

Q. What are some of the specific policies or technologies that have been rolled out that have helped with keeping COVID-19 transmission so low in the NFL?
A. Focus on the following key areas to reduce transmission:

  • Meeting – keeping people safe during meetings, in or outside of the facilities
  • Eating – Understanding that people need to take their masks off when they eat. We need to reduce the overall time that's spent eating
  • Greeting – social gatherings, time traveling to the facilities in cars without masks- we need to make sure that decisions off the field don't impact everyone at work

Q. The NFL has been a thought leader during the pandemic with COVID-19 Management. What are some key highlights?
A. The NFL is comprised of 32 different communities, and we have many different strategies to consistently coordinate to drive our safety practices.

  • The healthiest teams have a competitive advantage. What you do away from work impacts your colleagues and clients at work.

Q. Can you give us an update on the contact tracing technology you are using and how effective it has been?
A. People don't remember how long they met with someone or whether they were close. [Our contact tracing technology] takes the uncertainty out of it. This is not a "reduce transmission" technology though. The device doesn't stop someone from getting infected. Ultimately, masks and social distance are more important and a higher priority.

Q. Based on your experience and best practices that you've learned, what do you recommend for food establishments?
A. Follow all of the prevention measures:

  • Temperature screening
  • Physical distancing
  • Mask usage- wear a mask! 90% compliance is a failing grade. You have to shoot for 100% compliance.
  • Reduce your time in the same room as others, especially while meeting, eating, or greeting

SAFER in the Media

RA's COVID-19 Safety Czar, Anthony Capozzoli, is sharing his knowledge and expertise to fellow restaurateurs and the general public. Looking for more information? Make sure to review our key takeaways from each SAFER webinar. You will find them farther down below on this page. 

Watch the WUSA9 segment discussing "sanitation theater" and debunking COVID-19 Myths

Learn more about "sanitation theater" from Anthony and other experts in The Washington Post

Learn about the adaptations in the B&I Industry from FE&S Magazine

Watch the Inside Edition interview

Watch the IG Live recorded interview with Jennifer Baum of Bullfrog+Baum @bullfrogandbaum

  Follow SAFER on instagram! @S_A_F_E_R_A

Restaurant Associates Forms New Safety Role with a Laser Focus on COVID-19 Related Safety and Health Measures

New York, NY, May 11, 2020 – As the onsite dining industry continues to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and supports clients in re-opening plans, Restaurant Associates, the nation's premier onsite dining management company, announced the formation of a new role, RA COVID-19 Safety Czar. The position ascertains a laser focus from the company on COVID-19 related safety measures ensuring the health and wellbeing of team members and guests.

The position is held by Anthony Capozzoli, a 13-year Restaurant Associates veteran. A graduate of Johnson and Wales University, Anthony has held a variety of front and back of house positions for Restaurant Associates and was most recently Senior Director of Strategic Projects, directing all new unit openings and refreshes as well as coordinating quality assurance and workplace safety programs with a series of communications, awareness programs, specification of protective gear, and consistent follow-up.
"We believe this is a critical time to make expert resources available for our clients and operators to ensure everyone's safety and well-being," said Michael Gallagher, President, Restaurant Associates. "I cannot think of a better person than Anthony to lead this effort. In order to stay current and provide accurate information in a timely manner, we have formed an Advisory Board to guide and support Anthony."

The Advisory Board supporting the RA COVID-19 Safety Czar role is comprised of industry experts with years of experience:

Beth Torin: Beth was the Executive Director for the NYC Department of Health Office of Food Safety for the past 14 years. In that role, she was responsible for over 25,000 food service establishment inspections per year. Beth has experience in food service operations, design and assessment, and food safety.

Dr. David Buckley: Dr. Buckley serves as the Director of Retail Food Safety for Diversey. David earned a BS in biology and chemistry from East Carolina University and a doctorate in microbiology from Clemson University. David is a classically trained virologist with a focus on a variety of environmental and foodborne pathogens, such as noroviruses, Salmonella spp., E. coli O157:H7, and L. monocytogenes.

Ted Diskin: Ted is President of Health and Sanitation Systems since its inception in 1986. After receiving a Master's degree in Operations Research from NYU and a Master's degree in Environmental Health Sciences from the City University of New York, Ted became a member of its graduate faculty. He is a Registered Sanitarian through the NYS Registry of Sanitarians.

Lena Darrell, MPH, REHS/RS, RD, CDN: Lena has managed Quality Assurance for Compass Group for the last 6 years after 9 years industry experience. Lena holds an MS in Public Health and a BS in Food Science and Nutrition from Hunter College. She is REHS/RS (Registered Sanitarian from NEHA) as well as a Registered Dietitian.

Amanda King: As Workplace Safety Manager for Compass Group for the last 10+ years, Amanda focuses on preventing workplace accidents and promoting health and safety awareness and education.

Aaron Salsbury: As VP of Data Analytics with 9+ years of experience building strategy for foodservice, Aaron is a new senior leader dedicated to RA from E15 Group, Compass Group's data services and consumer insights arm.

The Advisory Board will function as a think tank examining information and guidelines to form protocols, counsel operators and clients, guide internal and external communications, as well as share best practices from across business sectors and industries.

"I am extremely excited to kick off this effort to translate guidelines into action plans and bring innovative solutions to our clients while supporting our managers and associates," said Anthony Capozzoli, RA COVID-19 Safety Czar. "My two main goals are to nurture a culture of enhanced safety and to foster a sense of guest confidence."

A network of RA COVID-19 Safety Champions across the regions will support the implementation and auditing of the programs, training of managers and team members, and coordinating cleaning and sanitizing services through Restaurant Associates' sister sector Eurest Services.

"Since our early years, Restaurant Associates has made the health and safety of our employees and guests our number one priority, it's in our DNA and an integral part of our culture of CARE." said Dick Cattani, CEO, Restaurant Associates. "We want to dedicate our best resources to safely manage the re-opening plan and beyond, hence appointing this unique position."

Read more about it in Food Management "Restaurant Associates creates new safety czar position, stresses 'facts over opinions'" and Ad Week "Eateries Hope to Lure Wary Diners Back With New Task Forces and Covid Czars: Restaurant Associates just announced a new position, and others may soon follow".


Addressing updated information around the virus, lessons learned from our locations that have opened, and key marketing initiatives RA is implementing

Below are the key takeaways from our third webinar. Panelists included:

  • Anthony Capozzoli (Moderator): COVID-19 Safety Czar for Restaurant Associates
  • Dr. David Buckley: Director of Retail Food Safety for Diversey
  • Jeffrey Greenberg: Food & Beverage Director at the New York Stock Exchange
  • Serena Crutchfield: Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Restaurant Associates
  • Aaron Salsbury: Vice President of Data & Analytics for E15 Group

From Dr. David Buckley:

  • There hasn't been one documented case of Coronavirus transmitted through food or food packaging according to the CDC & FDA to date through July 30th, 2020. The transmission of the virus still remains mainly person-to-person.
  • Physical distancing is perhaps one of the most efficacious COVID-19 control strategies that can be used.
  • Continue to routinely disinfect highly touched surfaces, and have an in-depth personal hygiene program in place. We're not just concerned with COVID-19, but other pathogens like Norovirus, influenza, etc...
  • Testing: The RT-PCR test remains to be the best test so far to ensure timely and accurate results. We should be wary of antibody/antigen tests because a number have lower accuracy and can lead to false-positive/negative results.
  • Don't purchase products that haven't necessarily been proven to be efficacious against the Coronavirus from a regulated organization like the EPA, CDC, or the FDA.

From Aaron Salsbury:

  • Consumer Sentiment about the virus has increased over last month, which coincided with the surge in COVID-19 cases across the country.
  • With the increase in concern across the consumer population, there has been an increase in precautions taken by 56% of consumers in the past month.
  • 83% of consumers said restaurants should require guests to follow safety guidelines (distancing, masks, temperature checks, etc).
  • Of the 200+ locations that R/A operates in, current population/attendance levels are:
    • 42% of R/A's Corporate/Education clients expect to increase population in September.
    • 31% of R/A's Cultural/Restaurant locations expect to increase attendance capacity then too.
    • Conversely, 28% of both groups do not have a date set for a population increase.

From Jeffrey Greenberg:

  • Scope of Food Services currently at The New York Stock Exchange:
  • The Tuesday after Memorial Day; the trading floor at the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) re-opened.
  • Population at 300 people in the building daily (200 traders/ 100 support services). Food service program consists of pre-packaged and served offerings only. No self-service at this point in time.
  • Only 3 percent of employees began working onsite out of the 25 percent of the population that were invited back.
  • Minimal catering services being offered due to the IPO's
  • Mask usage, physical distancing, & COVID-19 preventative measures are thoroughly enforced by facilities at The NYSE.
  • Rapid COVID-19 testing is being conducted at The NYSE on-site by their medical staff.

From Serena Crutchfield:

Boosting associate and guest confidence

  • Safety and communication of it are key:
    • You can't have guest confidence in our safety efforts, without YOUR staff feeling confident in their own safety at work.
    • Signage is critical
  • Communication of the guest journey and the new food experience:
    • Inform your guests on what they need to know about eating with us in this new era of dining.
    • Red vested ambassadors have been successful.
  • Entice and engage the guests:
    • We are seeing the importance of striking a balance between offering fresh grab & go and having one meal served by an attendant
    • Offer craveable food that guests wouldn't necessarily want to make at home.

Lessons Learned

  • Ensure you hold at least one dry run.
    • If possible hold a second one that includes a select number of guests invited to work out any issues prior to reopening.
  • Food is an important part of an employee's dining experience, it's worth taking a look at where the communication about dining falls.
  • Consider having a separate addendum or follow up communication for food and amenities.

June 16 SAFER Webinar 


Below are the key takeaways from our second webinar. Panelists included:

  • •Anthony Capozzoli (Moderator): Restaurant Associates COVID 19 Safety Czar
  • •Dr. David Buckley: Director of Retail Food Safety for Diversey
  • •Jugveer Randhawa: CEO, Compass Digital Labs
  • •Aaron Salsbury: Vice President of Analytics, E15 Group

may 19 covid-19 safety webinar for ra team members, clients, and partners

Below are the key takeaways from our first COVID-19 safety webinar, held on May 19th hosted hosted by Restaurant Associates and the COVID-19 Safety Advisory Board. Our goal is to bring subject matter experts from across safety, sanitation, consumer insights, and operations together to shape an effective COVID-19 response. The Advisory Board will review and deliver information and best practices while being a trusted resource for our team members and clients. We are sharing this information in the hopes that everyone can benefit from our discussions and findings; by working together we will overcome this pandemic and keep as many people as we can SAFER.

The first webinar provided a general overview of what we know and what you should know about safety, sanitation, and our expected government response to reopening food service establishments.


  • Anthony Capozzoli (Moderator): Restaurant Associates COVID-19 Safety Czar
  • Dr. David Buckley: Director of Retail Food Safety for Diversey
  • Tom Ford: Vice President of Quality Assurance and Food Safety for Compass Group
  • Beth Torin: Former Executive Director of the NYC Department of Health Office of Food Safety

Key Takeaways:

  • The transmission of the virus is mainly person-to-person. This means that while we need to be vigilant about our cleaning efforts, especially high-touch areas, social distancing and masks are the best forms of mitigation.
  • Testing: The RT-PCR test has proven to be the best test so far to ensure timely and accurate results. We should be wary of antibody/antigen tests because a number have lower accuracy and can lead to false-positive/negative results.
  • Survival on Surfaces: The virus can survive on surfaces, but its lifespan and potency reduce over time. Lab testing shows it survives on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours and cardboard for up to 24 hours.
  • The difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting:
    • Cleaning is the most important step in the hygienic process. Cleaning with detergent removes germs and materials and allows sanitizer/disinfectants to be effective. After using detergent, don't forget to rinse.
    • Sanitizing reduces food-borne pathogens to a safe level. It is important in food service areas, but not applicable to COVID-19. Sanitizers are not to be rinsed and should be used after you clean a surface. By definition from the EPA, sanitizers cannot be used to inactivate viruses.
    • Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean surfaces or remove germs, but when used after cleaning reduces the risk of spreading infection. The disinfectants being used by Compass are effective against COVID-19.
  • Specific to deliveries, you do not need to wipe down products. Wear a mask and gloves during and wash your hands after. Should the product allow it (i.e., not require refrigeration), you can leave for 24 hours as an additional measure.
  • We do not recommend a change in the way you treat produce. Operators should continue to treat and wash produce as they have been. Everything we see shows that produce and food are not known-vehicle for COVID-19.
  • Electrostatic Spraying (i.e., spray backpacks) can be effective, but an untrained user will not use it correctly. There are also potential regulation adjustments coming from the EPA. Therefore, we are hesitant to recommend it.
  • Antimicrobial films (i.e., tables prefabricated with protective covering) we have seen are not effective. Any amount of soil quickly negates its effectiveness.
  • We are monitoring UV Light cleaning products, but have not recommended any products yet. These can be effective and require additional training. If used incorrectly, UV Light is not effective.
  • We are expecting guidelines, not requirements to come from local and state authorities. We expect capacity limitations starting at 25%. It is important to note that you can still find ways to accommodate your guests by opening up other areas in your building for seating and service.
  • Restaurant Associates mandated COVID-19 Training for all managers and associates before returning that includes safety and care elements.
  • Notes around PPE and other new equipment:
    • Masks: Ensure your employees and guests have masks, whether cloth or disposable.
    • Gloves: Staff should wear gloves at all times and frequently change them after handling food.
    • Plexiglas barriers: Barriers between tables, or at your point-of-sale, are a good additional step.
    • Signage: Signage reminds guests and employees of their responsibilities (handwashing, distancing, masks). It is also a chance to communicate protocols you are doing to keep them safe.
    • Overt sanitation: Go above and beyond to show your guests the frequency of your cleaning.
  • Compass Group Quality Assurance team is treating this similar to a natural disaster. The QA team put in place a detailed reopening checklist that addresses all the cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfection of equipment and spaces.
  • A comprehensive mandatory training program around safety and compassion will be deployed to all team members prior to re-opening.

our safety commitment

We are committed to everyone's safety. When you dine with us, your health and safety is of paramount importance.

You can rest assured we are taking many steps to ensure a safe dining environment. This includes:

  • Specialized pandemic & COVID-19 safety training for all associates.
  • Employee temperature and health checks before every shift.
  • Masks worn by all associates.
  • All associate workspaces with a minimum of 6 feet of space between them.
  • Maintaining strict cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting protocols.
  • Ensuring CDC guidelines for handwashing and hygiene etiquette.
  • Reinforcing Food Safety Management System & HACCP standards for food preparation and service.
  • Suspending self-service and moving to packaged items and attended stations to minimize transmission of viral particles.

catering & conference dining

With the health and safety of our clients and staff in mind, we are taking many steps to ensure a safe catering experience:

  • Specialized pandemic & COVID-19 safety training for all associates.
  • Employee temperature and health checks before every shift.
  • Masks worn by all associates.
  • A new pair of gloves worn by associates for each delivery.
  • All associate workspaces with a minimum of 6 feet of space between them.
  • Maintaining strict cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting protocols.
  • Ensuring CDC guidelines for handwashing and hygiene etiquette.
  • Reinforcing Food Safety Management System & HACCP standards for food preparation and service.

Additionally, our teams have developed new catering menus and have exciting programs in the pipeline including informational webinars and trainings on planning meetings with these new guidelines, catering vouchers, special offers, and more.

CxRA has developed a detailed plan on events reimagined. Click here to view.

protect yourself & others

The following guidelines are intended to keep you and everyone around you, including our associates, safer:

  • Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask or face covering.
  • Maintain a 6 feet minimum distance from others.
  • Please try to touch only what you plan to purchase.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as your phone, keyboard, and desk.
  • If you are showing symptoms, please notify your health provider and stay home.


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