With most businesses opening last week and this week, people are eager to get back into the world and patronize their favorite food spots. Gov. Mike DeWine’s order allowed Ohio restaurants to resume outdoor dining last week and indoor dining Thursday, but some are delaying their reopenings.
Restaurant owners have been implementing ways to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.
For Mike Smith, owner of Thyme Table in Bay Village, that means creating a new way for people to dine. Smith plans to open the back and side patio on Monday and said customers will be able to order online and pick up their orders at the business’s food truck parked next to the patio. Hand-sanitizing and soap stations have been installed throughout the restaurant and employees will sanitize tables after each use.
“We really wanted to make sure we could control social distancing and sanitary protocols before we opened to the public,” Smith said. When the patio opens, the restaurant will be open between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. daily, he said.
There was another practical matter for Smith. “I didn’t want to open our patio and then not have that demand there,” he said.
Owner Kim Berry of Rocky River’s popular Herb’s Tavern plans to open the patio area on May 27. She will require her three servers to wear masks, as well as gloves, and has made one entrance of her patio entrance only and the other a designated exit. She has also set up hand-sanitizing stations throughout the restaurant and is requiring workers to sanitize on a regular basis. “It’s my responsibility to make sure everyone is safe when they come out,” Berry said. “I wanted to make sure we crossed all of our ‘t’s’ and dotted every ‘i’. That’s why we’re opening later.”
Both restaurants will limit seating on their patios. For Thyme Table, that means cutting capacity from 60 open seats to 40. Herb’s Tavern will only allow six open spots. To manage this, both businesses ask that customers make reservations. Both will also continue to offer carryout and delivery service.
Other restaurants, while skipping the opening of outdoor dining, plan to open fully when allowed. However, most of them will be delayed and will not open this week.
Gunselman’s Tavern in Fairview Park has delayed opening fully for at least a week. However, the business is running carryout and delivery every day between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m.
At Fat Head’s Brewery and Saloon in North Olmsted, General Manager Amy Chappel said the staff has been rethinking everything in light of new requirements, from patio dining to the indoor dining.
“We’ve been transitioning from doing curbside service to having people coming in for regular dining,” she said. “People are ready to go out for food again. We had people standing out in the rain today (Friday) wanting to get here.”
Inside, some booths and furnishings have been removed to provide additional room and the menu and hours will be subject to change to meet social-distancing guidelines, she said. Seating is available on the Columbia and Lorain road patios to provide the maximum social distancing, Chappel said.
Chappel also said Fat Head’s is suggesting guests wear masks as much as possible.
Joe’s Deli in Rocky River, whose owner, Joe Kanaan, recently recovered from COVID-19, continued curbside pickup and delivery last weekend and plans to take its time opening. Meanwhile, customers can order food between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. for lunch and dinner specials.
Still, some restaurants took full advantage of DeWine’s order allowing restaurants to reopen. Condado Tacos in Westlake opened its patio to customers between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. with strict cleaning procedures for its employees.
“We’re requiring employees to wash their hands every 20 minutes, keeping hand sanitizer at the host stand in every restaurant and increased cleaning and heightened sanitation of kitchen surfaces and equipment.” CEO Joe Kahn said in a statement. “Employees are also required to wear masks at all times.” The business hasn’t determined when indoor dining will resume, he said.
Moe Robiglio, vice president of operations for BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse in North Olmsted, said it has implemented changes to enhance safety. They include reducing room capacity, using a digital menu, a QR code to scan, or disposable menus and enhanced worker screening by checking temperature and health when they come to work.
All workers will wear face covers and gloves, he said, and medical-grade disinfectant will be used on tables, chairs, booths, menus, pens, and credit card machines after each use.
While it didn’t open to the public last weekend, Melt Bar and Grilled in Lakewood plans a “slow roll” opening, offering a limited amount of indoor and outdoor dining space to customers Thursday as well as strict sanitation measures for the staff. The business will be open between 3 p.m and 9 p.m Monday through Friday, 11 a.m to 9 p.m. Saturday and 11 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Carryout and delivery will still be available.
Contact this reporter at email@example.com or 216-307-6614. Reporter Jeff Gallatin contributed to this story.