While some restaurants will continue with the takeout model, or staying dark altogether, others are already modifying their dining rooms, prepping to open next week while abiding by the state's one-page health sheet outlining safeguards for both customers and restaurant staff.
You won’t see salt and pepper shakers on the table at Ocean 44, Steak 44, and Dominick’s Steakhouse. But you will get a disposable menu.
At Carly’s Bistro in downtown Phoenix, the dining capacity will be halved.
“We’re not going to do just six feet,” says owner Carla Wade Logan. “We’re going to do 10 or 12 feet just to err on the side of caution.”
Carly’s will reopen its dining area on Friday, May 15, because that’s when the stay-at-home order ends. Wade Logan says it makes more sense to have those dates coincide. “We felt like that was more appropriate, and we’re just continuing to … follow the information from the state regarding new cases and what’s happening,” she says.
While she says regulars and members of the younger population may feel comfortable coming in right away, she doesn’t feel like that decision is right for everyone.
Overall, she says, business is down about 70 percent.
“This is especially hard for restaurants in Arizona because February through April is our high season,” she says. “And the profits from that high season is how restaurants make it through the summer months.”
“We’re really hoping that the governor allows that component to remain intact,” she says.
Carly’s also hit a significant milestone on April 27, which the restaurant was planning on highlighting with a big event to celebrate years of being a stalwart of the Roosevelt Row dining and art scene.
“We’re blessed because we just celebrated our 15th anniversary, so we’re an established business with a loyal following who have been really wonderful throughout all this, and that is huge,” she says. “My heart aches for businesses starting out in the last year or two."
Verdura, the Uptown vegan eatery that opened in March 2019, is one such business. The restaurant started off early with takeout, then temporarily closed on March 21.
In the end, Wade Logan says there’s a larger reason to follow these guidelines and take extra precautions like additional distance and delayed openings, in addition to current safety.
“The guidelines are important to follow so we don’t end up having to close again,” she says. “If people ignore the rules, and there’s mass outbreaks, we’re going to be back in the same position again.”
Wade Logan stresses that would be nothing short of catastrophic.
“This is already so devastating for our industry,” she says, “but to have to close, reopen, restock, re-staff, and then have to do it all again, that would be a nightmare.”