Come in, we’re open! At least that’s what many restaurants in Alachua County are saying.
Executive orders issued by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Alachua County commission say Alachua County restaurants can open up indoor and outdoor seating today (May 4th). And while many local restaurants have been chomping at the bit to get their customers back in the dining room, others are opting for the status quo by continuing with take out and delivery only.
The orders allow indoor capacity to operate at 25%, no groups larger than 10 people, social distancing as per CDC of (six feet apart and face masks worn when not eating). Outdoor seating must have six feet of space between tables, and groups of 10 or less.
Satchel’s Pizza owner Satchel Raye donned a face mask in a video on the restaurant’s Facebook page showing all of the adjustments he has made for the anticipated May 5th opening. Raye also made a public comment during an Alachua Board of County Commissioners meeting as they decided on local orders asking them to respect that restaurant owners are responsible when it comes to the safety of their staff and customers.
“We’ll have a runner out here running food and sanitizing tables,” he explains. “Just two tables in this room,” he says during the inside tour. “The toys are going to be gone for kids to get their fingers into,” he said about minimizing high-touch items.
The outdoor waiting area has blue tape marking social distancing six feet apart and if the line gets too crowded and the tables fill up, he says, customers will be asked to order takeout instead.
“You’ll be able to sit down outside or with one or two tables inside, have a beer or a bottle of wine as you sit with your family,” he said.
Another restaurant in town that serves up pizza took a different approach. Piesanos Stone Fired Pizza released this statement on May 4th. “To our valued Gainesville guests and neighbors; after much thought we have decided to wait on opening our dining rooms. Your support through this whole process has been tremendous and we cannot thank you enough. We will continue to offer our full menu through our award winning express take out and our third party delivery partners. We will look forward to seeing you soon!
Pepperoni’s Pizzeria in Alachua and High Springs also decided keep the dining area closed. “To all our wonderful customers, Pepperoni’s Pizzeria is going to continue to operate with take out/carry out only at this time. Remember, you can download our app or place your order online at http://pepperonispizzeria.com/. We’ll have it ready for you to bring home with our curbside service!,” their statement on Facebook reads.
Adam Brewer, owner of Adam’s Rib Co., said he is open for business with four tables inside and tables outdoor available for seating.
“We’re putting everything in to-go boxes,” Brewer said but customers can eat at the restaurant and he’s looking forward to seeing his regulars.
The restaurant’s Facebook pages is touting the pinned post of “Adam’s Call Ahead Carryout Special! One Whole Slow Smoked Barbecue Chicken, 2 Large Sides & 4 pieces of garlic bread only $19!”
Matthew Wade operating director of PDQ Gainesville released a video statement on April 29th encouraging customers to continue enjoying their food and showed the safety precautions the restaurant employees are taking. He added new menu items such as family meal deals. The restaurant’s reduced capacity indoor and outdoor dining spaces are open for business daily according to the restaurant’s phone message.
Bento Asian Kitchen has opted to keep the indoor dining area closed. In their statement, it says:
“As you may know, the mandatory closure of all dining rooms will be lifted in several counties across Florida as of this Monday, May 4th. The health and well-being of our team, guests, and community are still our top priority, so we have made the decision to keep our dining rooms temporarily closed. We will continue to offer takeout and delivery until we feel it’s safe to reopen our dining rooms.
“We truly appreciate your understanding and support thus far and are humbled that our rolls, bowls, and boxes may have been able to provide a little extra joy these past few weeks. Until we’re able to catch up (in person), you can still get your Bento to-go by calling ahead or through DoorDash pickup or delivery. We hope you continue to eat well and stay safe.”
Chef Chris Fennell of Northwest Grille posted this notice to customers on May 3rd:
“After careful consideration and feedback from our employees who are eager to get back to work (most of whom have been without a source of income for quite a while now due to our overwhelmed unemployment system in Florida) we will reopen our dining room on Monday following all federal, state and local guidelines.
“We will continue to monitor each employee with a questionnaire and by taking their temperature before they’re allowed to work. We have stocked up on masks, sanitizer, hand sanitizer and plenty of gloves. We have laminated copies of our limited menu so they can be easily sanitized between tables. We will also have hand sanitizer available for our customers.
“We will continue to do curbside pickup and regular takeout utilizing our private room as a designated take-out area only.
“We are taking this as a trial run and if we feel that we cannot maintain the high standards that we are setting we will improve and adapt or go back to carryout and delivery only. Our main goal is the safety of our employees and customers.
“Ps. Our employees are coming back by their own choice. There is no pressure to return if they feel unsafe and there is no threat of job loss if they wait to return. Our employees are our family and we will continue treat them as such. Stay safe and healthy and we hope to see you soon, Chef Chris.”
The Mustang Grill and Bar Owner Shaun Willis asked his customers and friends for advice on social media and also consulted with local authorities. He decided to keep the indoor dining area of the restaurant in Archer closed for now but opened up the outdoor seating area.
“The last few days we have been talking with local authorities, other business owners, customers and closely following comments on social media,” Willis posted on the restaurant’s Facebook Page.
“On Monday, keeping our customers and employees safety and health as a priority, we have chosen to continue doing to-go only,” Willis commented.
“Except, our outdoor open air tables will be available for dining or drinks, with social distancing guidelines in place (every other table). This is a difficult time for everyone and we look forward to serving you in the safest way possible.”
One local restaurant has been sponsoring meals for local law enforcement and medical first responders and he gives 20 percent discount and free coffee to them as well.
Dave Anders, the owner of Daves New York Deli, said he has two tables on the patio and three tables inside available for seating that are spaced six feet apart.
“We’ve been kept very very busy with first responders meals,” he said.
Companies have been sponsoring meals for local law enforcement and medical first responders and he gives 20 percent discount and free coffee to them as well.
Embers Wood Grill will open today at 5 p.m. They welcomed their customers with this statement on their Facebook page:
“We have missed you and are looking forward to serving you in our dining room and out on the patio. We are taking all the precautions to make sure your dining experience safe and still remarkable. As you know, we have always had very high standards. We understand if you can’t or don’t want to join us at a table just yet. We still have online/ call-in ordering with curbside pickup. Happy Monday!”