What Greene County restaurant owners are considering when re-opening dining rooms

Reopening The Ozarks

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Some restaurant owners say they have a lot to consider before reopening their dining rooms.

Dining rooms have been empty for weeks, but starting May 4, Greene County restaurants may open up dine-in at a limited capacity. Bars, brewery taprooms, and counter services cannot re-open for dine-in under Phase 1 of Springfield-Greene County’s “Road to Recovery” plan.

Patrick Duran, owner of Metropolitan Grill, Great American Taco Company and Hard Knox BBQ says there are going to be plenty of challenges for restaurants to consider on how they approach things, because it’s hard to know if people will be willing to go out immediately.

“It affects restaurants differently. We’ve been giving out surveys to both our customers and our employees to see what their thoughts and feelings are at this point,” says Duran. “I think some people are on the side of one extreme, and then the other extreme, and I think our job is to land somewhere in the middle, and hopefully appease as many people as we can.”

Safety of customers and workers are top priority right now. How to staff stores is something that will take some strategy too.

“This policy is not a one size fits all policy. It affects restaurants differently,” Duran says.

One business that has been able to keep things moving is Godfather’s Pizza. Mike Sidwell owns four Godfather’s Pizza stores in the area.

“May 4th we’re allowed to open up the dining room. Godfathers Pizza at all four locations will probably wait until May 11th,” Sidwell says.

But some of his stores are known for their pizza buffets as well, which he says will require them to take some extra precautions.

“We’ll probably wait until the Phase 1 is over to run the buffet, and when the buffet re-opens, there will be some changes. Corporate Godfather’s – they’re discussing some of the changes now. We’ll be making some changes on our own. The utensils and the spatulas, they will no longer be there. Shakers won’t be on the table, napkins won’t be on the table,” Sidwell says.

With so many factors to be considered, restaurants want to make sure they do things right for the sake of the customers, and their business.

Duran says he and other restaurant owners are in no rush.

“None of us are in a hurry to open. We’re not gonna open until we’re ready,” Duran says.

OzarksFirst spoke to Jimm Swafford, Owner of Jimm’s Steakhouse and Pub. He says they will be re-open their dining room on May 7. Their salad bar, which is normally self-serve, will be operated by servers.

Duran says he will also be re-training his staff to focus on safety from the time guests walk in the door, all the way until they are ready to leave. He says that will be crucial to do before re-opening.

Before you make plans to go out to eat next week, call ahead and make sure the restaurant you are going to is open.

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