“They say open Monday, but they haven’t even released the regulations yet.”
With Georgia Governor Kemp opening the state back up for business, we spoke to five local restaurateurs who own a combined eleven restaurants in the CSRA. (With the fluid nature of the situation, and with the owners having yet to communicate with their employees, we are not publishing their names.)
They unanimously said no-they will not be opening Monday.
Most cited their belief that it is too soon, along with the fact the state has yet to issue regulations for the restaurants to follow.
“No. I just don’t want to be the first of the restaurants to re-open. I’ll let other people take the negativity,” said one owner with multiple locations.
When asked when he was opening, another restaurateur stated flatly, “We won’t be opening Monday, that’s for sure.”
While some restaurants have found limited success with takeout and delivery, the vast majority of locally owned sit down restaurants are biding their time, watching the developments like everyone else, hoping for the best.
A third restaurant owner with multiple locations stated, “I am not opening Monday. I think it is too soon. I’m going to hold out a little bit longer.”
Although the state says it is OK to welcome guests back into their businesses, ultimately it is a decision to be made by the one who pays the bills.
“I think if you open, you are going to lose the trust of the public. Because in everything I’m reading, I agree we have to get business going, but everyone is saying it’s a bad idea.”
With social distancing requirements in place, this restaurateur struggled to picture what his dining room would look like if he were to open Monday. “What are we going to do, open up? I have a bar. Put everybody six feet apart at the bar? That sort of defeats the whole purpose. The whole purpose of a restaurant and a bar is to be social. So if you have to get rid of all that, then it really defeats the purpose.”
While the restaurants we spoke with expect the larger national chains to open as soon as possible, the local business people in the industry obviously aren’t sold on the idea.
“There are no guidelines yet. And even if there are, what am I supposed to do, operate at 50% capacity and lose money? I can’t make any money with a half full restaurant.”
Yet another owner with a large staff was curious about PPE requirements of their employees. “Do the servers have to wear masks? Do they not have to wear masks? I would think if someone is waiting on you with a mask on it will change the whole concept of dining out. The stress and pressure would not be a good thing.”
“Open to what? F@#$ no. Its stupid,” was the response of a high end dine-in restaurant.
“The chains will open on Monday.”
Ultimately the public will decide when the time is right. “No, we will not be opening. I don’t think the public supports that. Let’s wait and see what social media and what people say.”