Across Northern California, the COVID-19 pandemic has created countless challenges for restaurateurs and their staff. From moving dining outdoors and reducing hours to layoffs and closures, the impact on each restaurant is unique. As businesses in the hospitality industry navigate their own unique hurdles, Sutter Health Plus is privileged to support our employer groups and their employees by offering affordable access to high-quality care.
One of these groups is Land and Sea Restaurants – Waterbar and EPIC Steak located in San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Despite ever-changing health mandates and setbacks throughout the past two years, the group continues to provide health benefits for more than 200 employees. Managing Partner Pete Sittnick shares his experience working with our health plan.
“In a city like San Francisco where restaurants are an important part of the economy, it’s been sad to see so many boarded up and some that cannot afford to reopen. Many are seeing fewer customers and having difficulties with finding and retaining staff,” says Pete.
“When we were forced to temporarily close, many of our employees felt significant anxiety being at home in isolation with a reduced income. To help support employees during this difficult time, we chose to continue providing health benefits and remove that major concern for them, show our loyalty and solidarity, and offer some peace of mind. We know that our employees’ physical and mental health is essential to our success.”
Pete says Waterbar and EPIC Steak offer employees Sutter Health Plus because the plan provides access to an integrated network of high-quality providers, hospitals, and same-day Sutter Walk-In Care locations across the Bay Area. He also appreciates that plan designs, benefits, and features are easy to understand for the group’s diverse, often younger employee base.
Hospitality staff often work outside normal business hours and need ways to access care that fit into their schedule. Pete says his employees like convenient tools—such as the My Health Online patient portal and the Sutter Health Plus Member Portal—that offer easy access to view benefit documents, cost share information, and ID cards, book a video visit with a Sutter provider or find a nearby Sutter Walk-In Care, all from a mobile device.
In addition to offering health plan coverage, the group supports its employees in other innovative and meaningful ways.
“We create flexibility in work schedules for employees to get tested and vaccinated for COVID-19 and give them the day off after their second vaccination. We encourage employees to use their mental health benefits,” says Pete. “During closures, we created a fund to provide pay for employees. We also partnered with a local nonprofit to offer an employee meal program, distributing packaged food to employees and their families twice a week, becoming a great way to stay connected.”
Whenever possible, Pete says he spreads the word about all the tools, benefits, and features available to his employees through Sutter Health Plus so they can take an active role in managing their health.
“Employees need to know they have a plan we selected with their needs in mind, which services are covered, and how to easily access care. We communicate this during pre-shift meetings and through email, and post information on our employee portal and in breakrooms.”
Pete is proud of the group’s accomplishments. He says that of the thousand things they have done to adapt, the choice to support employee health was an easy one.
“Offering health benefits through these times has made such a difference for our employees, some of whom have been with us from the beginning. They worry about caring for their families with reduced employment hours and the future of our industry—they shouldn’t also need to worry about their health benefits.”
Sutter Health Plus is honored to provide access to high-quality healthcare for Pete, his family, and the employees of Waterbar and EPIC Steak—two of Northern California’s resilient restaurants putting people first.
For information on Sutter Health Plus or to find out how to add the plan to your employee health benefit offerings, please contact your broker or call Account Services weekdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., at 855-315-5800.