GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – After nearly two months, South Carolina restaurants are welcoming diners back inside.
Some restaurants still haven’t opened up their dining rooms, but others began to welcome diners back again Monday with social distancing guidelines in place.
“It’s a big day,” said Joshua Beeby, who owns Barley’s, The Trappe Door and The Burrow at Augusta in Greenville. “It’s been a long time coming.”
For Beeby, re-opening was a stressful prospect.
“Waking three sleeping giants in one day…basically opening three restaurants in one day is a huge task,” he said.
He said he had to lay off about 90 employees when South Carolina restaurants shut down dine-in services in March. Now, he said some employees don’t want to come back to work because they’ve been making more money on unemployment.
“Now essentially we’ve got to you know tell them unemployment’s over at some point in time…but a lot of them have been really excited to come back to work and get out of the house, and others not so much,” Beeby said. “And then there are still others that are somewhat fearful of what’s going on and don’t really feel safe.”
For Carl Sobocinski, who is the president of the Table 301 Restaurant Group, re-opening indoor dining has come just days after they re-opened outdoor dining. He said preparing for both has involved a lot of training.
“We spent all last week training our staff on a few extra steps of service as far as sanitizing tables with an extra step, distancing the tables, not seating people right on top of another table, leaving an empty table in between all of them,” he said.
The state’s guidelines require at least six feet between tables, additional sanitizing, and only 50 percent of indoor dining space used. For some restaurant owners, it’s better than nothing, but it still presents challenges.
“Again the big dilemma, we have to bring back 75 percent of [employees] by June 30 in order to get forgiveness on the [Paycheck Protection Program] plan, so whether or not business will be at even 75 percent capacity from where we were is an interesting dilemma as well,” Beeby said.
He said they’re only expecting about 30 or 40 percent capacity upon reopening.