SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Restaurant owners may have just two weeks to ramp up and prepare for full occupancy for the first time since Greene County’s stay-at-home order back in 2020.
Springfield City Council is expected to vote Monday, April 5, to replace its 50% occupancy restriction. The new rule would go into effect on April 16 if passed.
Steven Shutts, owner of Everyday Thai, said after moving locations and doubling the restaurant’s capacity at the start of the stay-at-home order, his business has its average number of customers come in with little to no change. Still, Shutts said take-out orders account for about half his business.
“We’ll add the tables and chairs that we kind of took out,” said Shutts. “I think we’ll do that right away, just to see what we’re really fully capable of.”
Meanwhile, the head chef at Gilardi’s, James Martin, decided to close during the pandemic and not reopen until May.
Martin said he is choosing a slow transition to full occupancy to make loyal customers feel comfortable dining inside the restaurant.
“Now we’re starting to see groups of six and eight,” said Martin. “Still very close family members or friends that are feeling comfortable coming out, maybe grandma and grandpa now have a vaccine. It all goes back to does someone do or do not feel comfortable being in a space with other strangers. And that’s going to come with time.”
After a tough December with no big gatherings or holiday parties, Martin said he plans to host Christmas in July, complete with decorations and Christmas music all 31 days.
Martin hopes people will come and make up for some postponed celebrations.