By Ralph Dickerson
As the COVID-19 pandemic starts to ease, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued orders that allow restaurants to reopen this coming Friday, May 22. To reopen, restaurants must follow and insure proper social distancing practices, and only allow 33-pecent of its maximum seating capacity to be in the building. If a restaurant holds 100 people, only 33 patrons can be inside the establishment eating, and they must be seated according to acceptable social distancing requirements.
In Hancock County, these rules impact four restaurants: RiverView Restaurant, Tre’Viones and Main Cross Café in Hawesville, and Subway in Lewisport.
Tre’Viones George Banks, owner of Tre’Viones said he plans to open his restaurant located in downtown Hawesville to dine-in traffic on Friday. He said the rules allow him to seat a maximum of 51 people.
“Our staff will wear masks and gloves,” Banks said. “We prefer our dine-in guests to call reservations in so that would help us ensure a greater safety atmosphere for our customers.”
The number to call to make a reservation is 270.927.3006.
Main Cross Cafe
Gracie Burks, owner of Main Cross Café in Hawesville, said she does not plan on reopening this Friday.
“We are not planning to reopen until we are able to open again at full capacity,” Burks said.
Burks said two factors shaped the decision not to reopen. First, the restaurant’s maximum seating capacity is approximately 40 people. Opening and allowing just over 10 people in at a time does not allow enough paying customers in to make it feasible. Secondly, since most of her clientele is older, many of them said they would not come back with the social distancing regulations in place.
“We would not be able to afford to do it until we can fully open again,” Burks said.
Burks said they are taking this time off to revamp the menu to improve options for customers. In addition, she said the restaurant plans to adjust its hours when it does reopen later this year.
“We are going to come back,” Burks said. “We are just taking our time and waiting until everything calms down.”
The restaurant to be impacted the most by the Healthy at Work regulations is Riverview Restaurant. Riverview offers buffet dining and a salad bar. The new regulations say a restaurant “should discontinue use of salad bars and other buffet style dining to the greatest extent practicable. If a restaurant cannot discontinue buffet style dining, the restaurant must ensure that employees provide buffet service. Restaurants must not permit customer self-service.” Employees must wear gloves and other personal protective equipment when serving buffet dishes.
Owner JR Stutzman said he plans to open up on Friday morning at 7 a.m. as usual. He does plan some changes in his hours though.“We are also going to be open Monday and Tuesday evening now,” said Stutzman. The Monday and Tuesday hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The hours for Wednesday through Saturday stay the same at 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the restaurant being closed on Sunday.
The restaurant seats 50 people upstairs under normal conditions. Seating also exists downstairs, but Stutzman does not know exactly how many seats he can get downstairs. At 33 percent capacity, the restaurant can seat approximately 25 to 35 seats total under social distancing regulations. To bring up his seating capacity, Stutzman plans to make an easy addition to the restaurant. “We are putting picnic tables out front and we can serve people outside,” he said. “If we have nice weather, people can sit out side at the picnic tables.”
At this time, Subway in Lewisport does not contemplate making changes to how it is currently operating. Manager Kelly Simmons said the restaurant plans to offer carryout, remote orders and call-in orders.
“Our dining room is too small to have only a third in there,” Simmons said. “It is too much to try to do for 12 people. We would have a lot of arguments over who was going to get the tables.”