Restaurants prepare to re-open

What to expect if you hope to dine out

Restaurant reactions to Phase 2

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - While frustrations are high among those businesses that cannot re-open under Governor Roy Cooper’s Phase 2 “Safer at Home” order like bars and gyms, restaurants are busy and in some cases a little frenzied trying to get ready for operating under the latest guidelines.

On Friday at 5 p.m., restaurants may re-open with up to 50 percent capacity.

“I think it’s the same thing that everyone’s doing; we’re going to make it as safe as we possibly can, we’re going to make it as comfortable as we possibly can but here at the Shuckin’ Shack, we’re also going to make it as fun as we possibly can,” said C.O.O. Bill Bartlett.

Customers can expect to see tables spaced six feet apart, many employees wearing face coverings and gloves, and signs reminding you to stay six feet from others. Cooper’s order restricts groups for table seating to fewer than 10 people, unless the entire party lives in the same household.

“Plus, we have sanitation stations that have been set up throughout the restaurant," Bartlett said. "So, every time one of our servers walks by a sanitation station they’re cleaning their hands and being sanitized all the time.”

At the South Beach Grill on Wrightsville Beach, the entire staff was called in for training Wednesday to go over the latest health department guidelines.

“We want to make sure we do everything right; we don’t want to do anything wrong; we want to keep everybody safe and we want to have lots of customers at the same time, so it’s...we all have pins and needles, butterflies in our stomachs getting ready,” said co-owner Elaine Andrews.

Andrews is also an accounting lecturer at UNCW.

“I don’t think there’s any restaurant that can survive at 25 percent capacity, even 50 percent is very tight. At 50 percent, you’re probably just covering all of your costs. Yet, since we are a resort area and a beach area we need to, during the summer months, not just cover our costs but make enough profit to carry us over in the winter months so it’s very tight, very difficult,” she said.

Many restaurants are planning to continue offering curbside service.

Brooklyn Pizza Co. owner Brad Sywolski says its not worth the risk to resume dine-in service, which made up about 15-25 percent of his business before COVID-19.

“We’re a high volume location, so it would be hard to maintain that [cleaning] protocol, so instead of having people come in we’re going to continue only doing curbside pickup and contact-less delivery until social distancing is no longer mandated,” he said. "That’s a loss, but I think it’s worth it for the safety of my staff, again, and the community as well.”

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