By David Fleet
Robin expects that Monday is going to be busy.
“We are excited to reopen,” said Robin, who manages the Boat Bar, 2000 Ortonville Road, Brandon Township. “The last time the governor’s order was lifted a lot of people turned out.”
The Boat Bar is just one of thousands of eateries statewide that will partially reopen to indoor dining on Feb. 1, just 75 days after it was suspended on Nov. 18, 2020 amid a surge in COVID-19 infections. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the reopening earlier this month the latest signal that health officials believe the state is moving past a second wave of the virus that struck in the fall.
“We are hopeful that business will get back to normal at some time very soon,” she said. “We will do our part and keep people safe. It’s going to be one-quarter capacity and close we’ll close at 10 p.m, but we are confident that our loyal customers, are ready to get out of the house and join us for a great meal at ‘The Boat.’”
Restaurants and bars, like The Boat Bar in the state closed dine-in services shortly before St. Patrick’s Day 2020 at Whitmer’s order. Then they started reopening in northern Michigan on May 22 and the rest of the state reopened indoor services on June 8.
However, in July, following several outbreaks Whitmer closed bars and restaurants once again except for outdoor dining.
Under a new epidemic order that will last from Feb. 1- 21, restaurants and bars will be allowed to offer indoor dining at 25 percent capacity, with up to 100 people total. They must also close by 10 p.m. each night. Tables must also be six feet apart with no more than six people seated at each table. Diners will be required again to provide contact tracing information for restaurants, and eateries must close and be deep cleaned if an employee is confirmed positive for the virus or shows symptoms.
Patty Plant, owner of Cranberries Cafe, 10250 Hegel Road, Goodrich said they are open for lunch on Feb. 2.
“We understand some customers will be reluctant at first to return,” said Plant, who just celebrated 25 years of business. “But, we’ll do our part and keep our customers safe. Seating is going to be limited to about 25 people—it’s like GM building 75 percent fewer vehicles. It’s been a tough year and we are eager to find some normalcy.”
The 15th Street Tavern, 10081 S Ortonville Road opened its doors in May of 2019. Then when COVID-19 arrived, shuttering eateries statewide, they ramped up the seating capacity by constructing a four-season tent.
“We are excited for the reopening,” said owner Lindon Palushaj. “We’ll still have our fully heated outdoor seating for extra room—we can max out at about 100 inside the building. We are ready to go and expecting a great crowd to return. Many people want to get out and eat once again.”
By David Fleet