Restaurants are ready to re-open in February, but it’s not a one-size fits all solution

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By Tony Garcia

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan restaurants are less than one week away from re-opening, but there will be a number of restrictions in place when they do on February 1st.

For business owners like Jim and Rebecca MacQueen, it’s been a long time coming.

“It’s tremendously important,” Jim said. “February 1st could not come soon enough.”

Coach’s is a large restaurant, so there’s plenty of room for proper social distancing. Booths have Plexiglas in between them, tables are set six feet a part and adhering to the 10 p.m. curfew is no problem — all of which makes it worthwhile for Coach’s to re-open at 25 percent capacity.

“We’re very appreciative of the opportunity just to be open,” Jim said. “We are so lucky in a lot of aspects … because we have a large footprint and we can still seat 75-80 people so that really
gives us an opportunity to try and make it.

While it makes sense for Coach’s to re-open its dining room, that’s not the case for everybody. Saddleback Barbecue has two locations — one in Lansing and one in Okemos — and the smaller of the two in Lansing has a capacity of 32 people. That means no more than eight people can be inside and once you consider the four employees who will be there, it just doesn’t make sense.

“Unforutnately, it’s just too small to have a dine-in location,” said owner Travis Stoliker. “Really we only have spots for four people in the entire restaurant for customers.”

Of course with re-opening, comes new complications, such as figuring out the best way to keep everyone safe and trying to make sure employees get their hours. Jim says he just tries to be as fair as possible.

“Quite honestly what we’ve done, if it’s the front of the house we sit our servers down and say hey here’s the shifts we can fill we want to give everybody a fair shot,” Jim said.
“Where normally a server could have five shifts per week, we’re down to two.”

While owners know it’s not going to be easy to figure out, owners are just happy they will son have smiling faces in their restaurants once again.

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