COVID-19 Updates *Phase I May 4th*

As we slowly progress back to normal and enter into Phase I of the re-opening process, I’ve spoken to a dozen different establishments over the last couple days, to gauge their plans and thoughts on how to proceed. One thing I’ve been very passionate about over the last few days has been the ability for local restaurants to choose how they wish to proceed. As I’ll be outlining here, the responses are varied, but the constant is they are all taking additional sanitary precautions, abiding by state orders, and are considering the safety of both staff and customers.

Restaurants with ample outdoor seating are having an easier time opening up their dine-in options. Embers has paid their staff to come in over the last few days to deep clean the restaurant, and will be spacing out tables both inside and out on the patio in anticipation of re-opening on Monday. They are also actively taking reservations for Mother’s Day lunch, albeit with a standard menu in lieu of the typical buffet. Midici’s Pizza and Prum’s Kitchen are both also following suit on both indoor and outdoor seating per Governor’s guidelines. Meanwhile, Cilantro Tacos in Tioga and La Cocina de Abuela will not be seating inside due to a small sized dining room, but will allow for customers to eat their to-go orders outside if they wish. Satchel’s, Opus Coffee Airstream, and the rest of the 4th Avenue Food Park will also be opened with ample outdoor seating only. All of these restaurants will continue to offer curbside pickup.

Establishments with smaller dining rooms or large staffs are choosing to remain closed for the time being. Bangkok Square has said they will be using this week to deep clean both dining room locations before making a decision whether to re-open in the coming weeks. Crane Ramen would be limited to only 10 seats based on the re-opening guidelines, so they have chosen to continue with pick-up and delivery service only, re-evaluating after a week or so. Bento Café, Volcanic Sushi, Dragonfly Sushi, Arepas Milko, and Blue Highway Pizza will also keep all of their dining rooms closed but continue to offer takeout and delivery.

Cafes like Volta Coffee and Opus Innovation District are choosing to keep their spaces closed, as the nature of cafes lends itself to group gatherings. Volta is making a push towards offering pantry items and paper goods in the coming weeks, in addition to their existing to-go meals to be cooked at home. It is likely establishments like these will await Phase II or at least 50% capacity guidelines before reopening.

We’re also seeing restaurants that pivoted during the closures choose to continue operating in their new capacity. In lieu of opening up their location again, Sweet Dreams will continue to sell ice cream in neighborhoods via their firetruck ice cream truck. Given the size of their location, they would only be able to let 3 customers (more accurately 2.4…somehow…) into their store at any time, a particular challenge when their primary clientele are families. Places like Maple Street Biscuit Company will also continue to offer the pantry items they’ve been doing so over the last month, and open up their dining room with social distancing and employees to monitor.

These are all restaurants making the best decisions they can for the future of their business, the safety of their employees, and to meet the demands of their customers. The initial re-opening has seemingly created more uncertainty than previously. But it’s important our local small businesses have a choice just as you as the customer has a choice whether to visit them, continue to get take-out, or stay home. And if you choose to patronize them, understand they are doing all they can to mitigate risk and increase sanitation efforts while ensuring they can still be here for you once this is all over. Once again, please stay safe.

Listed above are just several examples of restaurants and how they are handling Phase I. Please refer to Facebook post for additional restaurants listed in comments.

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© 2021 by Ken Peng & Ken Eats, LLC. Title image courtesy of Jesse Adrian Scanlon Media.

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