Tallahassee restaurants see a slow increase in dine-in customers

Published: May. 14, 2020 at 4:49 PM EDT
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 14, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Florida restaurants are allowed to have 25% capacity indoors and socially distanced tables outdoors as part of Phase I of Governor Ron DeSantis' reopen plans.

Most restaurants tell WCTV they will continue their to-go service, as each day brings in more customers.

Most restaurants say they're not ready to depend only on a dine-in crowd; they say to-go, delivery and curbside pickup will likely be a part of many places' business for a long time to come.

Many restaurants are also continuing stringent cleaning procedures and implementing social distancing; most employees wear masks and/or gloves.

David Turknett owns Burrito Boarder; he says he wants his customers to feel comfortable and welcomes their feedback.

"If there is something, a practice that you see that we're doing or not doing, that our guests would like to see, I would like our guests to be vocal about that. Say, hey, this would make me feel more comfortable, this is what made me feel like, hey, I want to eat from you," said Turknett.

Turknett says he had mixed feelings when he learned he could reopen.

"At first we had trepidation, a little bit of fear, and also, you know, hope."

Turknett says restaurants that usually see traffic from local colleges are facing a "double whammy." Many were forced to close during what's usually a busy season; they're reopening at the beginning of a traditionally slow time.

Burrito Boarder has implemented single-use cups, socially distanced lines, and a Plexiglas divider.

The restaurant has also spread out its outdoor tables.

"We wanted people to have that feeling of hey, it's a cool place to be, but at the same time, we're safe, we can have our own little area here, other people can have their own area there."

At Hobbit American Grill, manager Jada Morgan says the regulars came back.

"Business has been increasing, today, I've been sweating a little bit, so it's going well!"

The restaurant has one employee each day who only focuses on sanitation.

"Every hour on the hour they sanitize all the door handles, the sinks, the door handles, the computers, phones," said Morgan.

Island Wing Company Bar and Grill has been bustling with business.

"We've pretty much been at 25% for lunch and dinner throughout," said owner Sam Osborne.

Osborne's restaurant has gotten creative with the parking lot, scheduling a weekly socially distanced movie night on a large screen.

"It just extends out the whole restaurant, to have that restaurant feel, but still staying away from each other," he said.

Each restaurant hopes the weekend could bring a boom in business.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has a COVID-19 Resources tab, which you can see by

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