Outdoor venues excited to re-open, remind of recovery still ahead

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The wait has gone on for more than 14 months.

Restaurants have been closed — then opened — and closed again.

But as of today there are no more limits on outdoor seating, no more hard cap at 100 people in a restaurant and no more restrictions on how many people can sit at one table.

“This is obviously a big day for us today with the expanded, no more curfew, now we can be open until 2 am both inside and outside so that’s a big deal for a lot of locations,” said Scott Ellis, Executive Director of Michigan License Beverage Association. “No limit to the outside so hopefully a lot of patios will be taking advantage of that this week.”

Restaurant managers across Mid-Michigan are also excited, but say the new regulations won’t affect everybody the same. Some will benefit from one lifted regulation while others will benefit from another — but overall, it’s good news.

“It’s going to be a little different for every restaurant,” said Tate Skiba, General Manager at Meat BBQ in Old Town. “We still have to stay at 50% indoor dining and we have a pretty small patio so the outdoor capacity doesn’t do too much for us.

“But it is nice to have multiple customers to sit at the same table again. We are a family restaurant and before if you had a family of 8 you had to separate so now it’s nice they can sit together and hang out.”

While this is great news for businesses overall, those in the industry say this recovery isn’t going to happen overnight.

“It’s a step in the right direction, it’s not fully there,” Ellis said. “It’s going to be a lot of time before we recover. The amount of time and restrictions and business we’ve lost, still places I know of are down 70-75 percent so this will help but they have.

“Two years or a year and a half of recovery to manage So it’s definitely a positive and we want to keep it positive, but we still have a long way to go.”

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