Small restaurants in Springfield may still struggle despite fewer COVID-19 restrictions

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield businesses are open at 100% capacity now that the yellow phase in the city’s Road to Recovery is in effect.

However, bar seating is still banned and masks are still required as part of the new phase.

While big businesses will be able to serve a packed house, smaller businesses who bring in most of their money at the bar won’t see much of a change.

“When you say we’re at 100% capacity, in reality, we’re still under 50% capacity,” said Danny Schlink, owner of J.O.B. Public House and Grad School.

Schlink said he has five tables for his customers to dine in while 28 bar seats sit in storage.

“We understand why it had to be done, but I mean we’re down probably 85 to 90% in revenue over the year,” said Schlink.

Under normal circumstances, Schlink says 60% of his business is made at this bar – folks sitting standing and ordering drinks. He says the city opening up to 100% capacity doesn’t really ring true for businesses like J.O.B.

“I mean people travel to sit at this bar and look at our whiskey,” said Schlink. “To be able able to allow that seems mixed messaging.”

According to Schlink, the counter is typically full of business travelers, couples and other people willing to spend a little extra to have a nice drink.

“When you’re with two people, you feel pretty uncomfortable sitting at a six top,” said Schlink. “And then if we seat you at one table, we have a six top come in, but then we have four tables. You know, and so it’s like, we can’t get up to ask you to leave, but at the same time, we lose the six top that just walked off when we could have just had counter service.”

Despite a tough year, Schlink said he is proud of the Health Department.

“I think they did an incredible job, and I think it was an impossible job to do, and I still think it’s impossible,” said Schlink. “You know, you gotta finish strong, and it’s kind of the hardest thing to do. So, they’re in a difficult spot, but we’re not built for a take out world or really just a social distant world.”

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department gave a statement on why bar seating is still banned:

“Evidence shows the risk of COVID-19 spread is increased in bar and counter seating settings. As a result, counter seating continues to be prohibited in the yellow phase of our Road to Recovery. Patrons may continue to place orders at counters, as long as food and drink are brought back to a table – and the counter space doesn’t become a gathering spot.  Individuals must continue to wear masks when leaving their table and in other places of public accommodation.”

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department

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