Some of the COVID-19 precautions have been relaxed around the province and restaurants are again allowed to offer in-house dining, though there are a few restrictions still in place.
Gateway Grill in Clearwater is one of the establishments that’s reopened its doors to customers, and staff there said it feels good to serve seated guests again, but wonder if operations will ever truly go back to the way they used to be.
“I love it. It’s a lot better. I love interacting with the people, so it’s all good,” said Justin Rauch, bartender and server at Gateway Grill.
“But it’s hard not being able to hug your local customers and stuff like that.”
The restaurant began allowing in-house dining on May 22. It used to be able to seat roughly 56 guests, but are now at half capacity, with tables having to be more spread out than it did with its original seating plan. Now the restaurant offers six tables inside and six tables for outside dining.
Staff still have to maintain six feet of distance, wear masks, and constant cleaning as well as hand sanitizing is of course a must.
“It’s a little bit more work having people in here because you have to sanitize everything, but it’s totally worth it,” said Rauch.
Before May 22 Gateway Grill was operating just with take-out and delivery and Rauch said that required a lot more hustle than usual.
He added the restaurant was actually quite a bit busier during the first phase of COVID-19 restrictions and it was a big change for staff to adjust to.
“We love all the local support that we’re getting from everybody. It’s really good, but it was a big change from serving in-house to just doing takeout orders,” he said.
“Because the phone is ringing then you have people at your door waiting for food. It’s a little bit busier doing it that way.”
Gateway Grill will likely continue offering delivery and take-out going forward, one of the indefinite changes to come about from COVID-19.
Not all of the changes the restaurant is seeing are as positive as offering delivery to customers, though, but staff at the Gateway Grill are trying to remain optimistic none the less.
“We don’t have all the tourists, so that puts business under quite a bit without having all that, COVID has hit us pretty good. It’s a little crazier now,” said Rauch.
“But we’re still running. Everyone is good and doing their part to stay safe. We’ll just have to wait and see how the summer goes.”