Restaurants allowed 100% capacity Tuesday — but it’s not that easy

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Starting Tuesday, restaurants in Michigan will be able to open to full capacity for the first time since the pandemic started more than a year ago.

At Max’s South Seas Hideaway in downtown Grand Rapids, the dining room that was once packed has had tables in storage for more than year. Owner Mark Sellers said that they will be staying there for now.

“It’s not as easy as the governor saying you can go 100%,” Sellers said of full reengagement.

Sellers told News 8 Monday that he would love to fill up the restaurant that can seat 220, but for now he’s down 60 seats because he doesn’t have the staff to support full capacity.

Over on Grand Rapids’ West Side at Brann’s Steakhouse & Grille, it’s a similar story. Staffing is down by 50% to 60% even though managers have been trying to hire for months.

Still, Brann’s will be reopening to full capacity Tuesday.

“Get our customers back in the doors and let them enjoy something that’s been missing for 15 months,” manager Sue Brubacher said.

Brubacher said customers will have to be patient while Brann’s works to hire at least a dozen more servers.

The pandemic has hit local restaurants hard, causing some to close — which is why the places that remain feel this milestone is so sweet.

“It was a chunk. It was a lot of money, but again, you push forward and you do your best to, I guess, make lemonade out of lemons,” Brubacher said.

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