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Essence COVID-19 Updates & Policies

It is our greatest priority to keep our guests, employees and community safe and healthy while still upholding our high standards of hospitality. Please check back here frequently for our latest updates, policies and procedures.


Dear valued guests,

I am thankful and proud of our team’s fortitude as we’ve endured the initial blow of the COVID-19 outbreak, surviving 60 days into this pandemic. In many ways, our industry is still in a state of shock, and we know there will continue to be many struggles ahead, but Essence will move forward with intention as we learn to live with this virus into the foreseeable future.

While some states are slowly reopening their economies and others are holding back, Michigan has taken the slow and steady route. Regardless of whether we agree or not, it’s only how we react that matters. We are now operating two zero-touch, carryout concepts: The Green Well and Jimmy Berger’s Gourmet Chicken (formerly Grove). As we see the near future becoming clearer, our industry will go through three distinct phases:
To be frank, when and what happens in Phase III is anyone’s guess. We have learned to stay focused on the current phase, because each day brings new awareness and facts to our reality. As time goes by, facts replace feelings, ultimately creating less fear. We will remain mindful and continue to implement science-based solutions in our new normal, because viruses won’t be eradicated due to how we feel about them.

  • Phase I is the current shut-down with carryout only.
  • Phase II will be a hybrid of carryout and limited dining.
  • Phase III will be a return to full-dining capacity.

As we approach Phase II, how we choose to re-integrate into our communities will be crucial to our long-term successful relationship with COVID-19. It absolutely matters how we behave individually and collectively. We believe that living in fear is not living at all, and we are obligated as humans to move forward and create our new normal now—together and based on the facts.

With that said, we share our plan for back to full-service hospitality engagement below. This begins with our 2025 Essence Values and Vision which call on us to ‘Create Trust through Kindness.’ The Essence Vision is to create a safe work environment for all our team members. The “Kindness Principle” (gratitude + empathy = compassion) tells us that gratitude and empathy ensure we have compassionate relationships, with kindness being the end result.

We believe our Values are the heart of our culture and guide us in all aspects of our work. Our Servant Leadership Values are built into our DNA:
Essence Restaurants will follow a comprehensive disinfecting and sanitation COVID-19 safety plan founded on our values and vision, as protecting our team and the community is our top priority.

  • Relationships matter.
  • Our actions define us.
  • There is far more risk in not sharing than in sharing.
  • Exceptional service is the standard.


PHASE I – Current State Stay-at-Home Order and Beyond: Mid-May – Early June

  • Zero-touch carryout service at The Green Well (TGW) and Jimmy Berger’s Gourmet Chicken (JB’s)
  • All bread, pasta and pastries house-made by Bistro Bella Vita (BBV)
  • June 4 BBV will re-open for zero-touch carryout with a limited menu consisting of pasta, pizza, classic entrées and take-home meal kits
  • How-to videos provided for all take-home meal kits
  • Late May JB’s will open for in-store ordering and pick up; no seating

PHASE II* – Hybrid in-store dining with carryout: Early June – Early September

Essence Sub-Phase A: In-store Dining with Carryout

*Please note that all in-store dining phases are subject to change based on further guidance and executive orders.
Essence Sub-Phase B: Transition to Increased In-store Dining
Essence Sub-Phase C August 3 – Early September
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me directly.

  • Early June TGW will open with limited in-store dining and outdoor service; no bar seating
  • Mid-June JB’s will offer very limited in-store and outdoor dining; catering options for pick up & delivery only; no bar seating
  • Late June BBV will open for limited in-store and outdoor dining
  • Late June TGW will move to approximately 50% in-store dining with more outdoor seating
  • Early July JB’s will begin limited in-store dining with approximately half its outdoor seating capacity
  • Mid-July BBV will move to approximately 50% in-store and outdoor service; Private dining room will offer existing seating, which accommodates safe distancing practices
  • Early August TGW will move to approximately 75% in-store dining and outdoor seating; no bar seating
  • Mid-August JB’s will move to approximately 50% in-store dining and 75% outdoor
  • Late August BBV will accommodate physical distancing with in-store seating and 75% outdoor service

PHASE III – Full in-store dining: September and beyond with possible roll back to Phase II based on seasonal outbreaks

In health,
James Berg, Managing Partner