For many local eateries, Friday marked a return to business – almost – as usual.
“It has a different feel,” said Jeff Havern, a managing partner of Primo’s Italian Restaurant in Yukon.
Primo’s was one of several restaurants to reopen on Friday, after Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on April 22 that restaurants would be allowed to resume regular business on May 1.
At the Lokal, Friday was busy, said general manager Randy Williams.
“We did really well in to-go orders in general while (the interior) was closed, and then Friday night to-go orders never stopped. With the dining room on top of all that, it was super busy,” Williams said.
Both restaurants have added additional measures to help ensure the safety of employees and customers. Currently, Primo’s is offering indoor seating by reservation only, and about half of the restaurant’s seating has been removed.
In addition, there are now outdoor tables for diners to use.
Paper menus are available for customers, and the usual plastic menus are being sanitized after each use.
Havern said the staff has been adjusting to all the changes – from learning how often to change gloves to getting used to the new seating policy – by being methodical and deliberate.
“We’re slowing down the process, and not getting in a hurry, and knowing safety has to be first and foremost,” Havern said.
At the Lokal, the front part of the restaurant is still being used only for to-go orders, Williams said.
In the main dining area, seating is available at every other table, and other seating, such as at the bar, observes recommended social distancing guidelines of six feet apart.
Both restaurants thanked the community for its continued support during the weeks that all eateries were mandated to offer to-go and takeout only.
“The support from the community has been fantastic,” Havern said.
Now that diners are returning, they are understanding of changes and happy to be out of their houses.
“People are very happy for the restaurant to be reopened,” Williams said. “They’re tired of being quarantined at home. There are still some people coming in for to-go, but people who are here dining in are very happy and receptive for us reopening.”
“We had probably some of the nicest customers over the weekend, and some of the most patient that I’ve ever met,” he said. “People have been really laid-back.”