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Restaurants Differ On What Reopening Should Look Like

Delivery man in orange uniform delivering food boxes in plastic bags to a woman customer at home.
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Delivery man in orange uniform delivering food boxes in plastic bags to a woman customer at home.

While Governor Ron DeSantis is now allowing indoor seating up to 25 percent capacity at restaurants individual owners are taking different steps to make sure their employees and customers stay safe. WFSU spoke with restaurant owners around Tallahassee to see what they’re doing.

When the governor loosened restrictions on restaurants Uptown Café co-owner Nic Tedio decided they’d open their doors for people to dine-in.

“Today was the first day and I think we had 3 or 4 tables. And the way that we’re doing it is it’s not even necessarily dining it’s still takeout you get the food in a to- go box and there’s a couple of tables you can feel free to dine at while you're here," Tedio said. "But we’re not doing refilled drinks. There’s not a server coming to your table to refill drinks and all that kind of stuff.”

Tedio says that helps keep employees and customers safe while modestly increasing his business.

"At this point and time, I’m not comfortable giving a customer a plate, or silverware, or a cup that someone else has [drunk] out of at this time. We’re doing our best to sanitize that stuff at all time and the requirements from that from the government are already very strenuous and we meet all those," Tedia said. "We’re doing everything that we can. But it’s still a big liability, even if it’s not a legal liability just the liability of knowing that somebody could get sick from us."

Tedio says he’s worried of what would happen to an employee if, for instance, they do contract the virus.

"Publix ran into that a couple of weeks ago where they had a bag boy and a cashier that had it. And the question is how do you move forward with that?" Tedio said. "What happens to those employees are they let go because they can’t come back and infect the rest of us with COVID. I don’t want to have to do that. If that’s what happens I don’t want to that to my staff."

Uptown Cafe's Tedio is taking a different approach from Keith Baxter who owns Kool Beanz Café. He's keeping his dining room closed.

"25% occupancy is a losing business model for me. Secondly, in a meeting with all of my employees, none of us felt like we were safe whether it’s a still high risk that we could be infected," Baxter said. "So we decided for the safety of our employees first and the safety of our customers second that we wouldn’t do that."

Instead, he says customers can just order takeout. As for now, he says he’s working on a limited staff since not everyone hasn’t decided to return to work. But he says there’s no rush.

"Not at all we’ve got a family of people here. I’ve got 5 employees who’ve worked here over 20 years," Baxter said. "I’ve got employees who’ve been here 16 years. We look out for each other here."

When asked when he would open the dining room he said he’ll, "Follow the science, Listen to the doctors."