FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Restaurants could return to full capacity today but for many businesses, the order to continue social distancing seats actually prevents them from doing so.
Despite that, the owner of Teds Beerhall said reaching Stage 5 is a big improvement in comparison to just a few months ago.
Restaurants all over the state were given the go-ahead to return to full capacity as of 12:01 am Saturday morning but for businesses like Teds Beerhall, owner Brian Hunch says the six-foot social distancing still required between tables coupled with limited space in their building has made it difficult to expand much beyond 50 percent capacity.
“We’re going to have a hard time getting much more seating than we have right now,” said Hunch. “We were able to add a couple of seats at our actual bar, which was nice, but to actually add a lot more seats within the restaurant itself and maintain that social distancing that we want to be able to keep, it’s going to be hard to add a lot of capacity.”
What has helped get them through the pandemic despite their limited seating has been the support from people in the community, like customer Matt Mullins, who have made an extra effort to shop and eat local.
“I feel very safe,” said Mullins. “We definitely have to support local businesses and not be afraid. I am a local business owner as well and if I’m forced to close, I can’t support my family. I can’t create jobs for my employees so we have to keep it local.”
While Stage 5 may not change much about their set up or precautionary measures, Hunch sees it as another step in the right direction.
“We’re a small business and small businesses were severely impacted by this pandemic so anything we can do to kind of improve on that situation is awesome,” said Hunch. “Today’s been busy, the weather’s gorgeous so I’m sure that has something to do with it, but I just think people’s attitudes are going to be a little bit better now.”
The next hurdle will be this winter once they are no longer able to seat on their patio. They are looking at options to keep outdoor seating potentially through the next couple of months but at some point, the patio will have to close.
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