Eye on KELOLAND: Serving customers during a pandemic

Eye on KELOLAND

LUVERNE, Minn. (KELO) — Minnesota restaurants, bars, and other food providers will soon be able to reopen.

Friday afternoon, Governor Tim Walz announced the move, which will take effect on Wednesday.

Occupancy will be capped at 50-percent with no more than 250 people indoors at one time.

This is a big change from a previous executive order that went into effect on Monday, which only allows for outdoor dining with no more than 50 people.

There are now picnic tables outside Brian Sterling’s restaurant in downtown Luverne.

The business owner added outdoor dining at Sterling’s Cafe and Grille on Tuesday after being shut down for more than two months.

“The last two months have been really hard. We’ve had to let go about 90-percent of our staff. We’ve done all of our business through carryout and to go. The community has been fantastic though on that end,” Sterling’s Cafe & Grille Owner Brian Sterling said.

But some staff are now back for this new, temporary dining style.

“You just do what you got to do, and you roll with the punches. The guests, it was the first time I was actually able to come out and talk to guests in the last two months. From the reactions they had, they’re happy to at least come outside,” Sterling said.

But not all restaurants have taken advantage of the opportunity to serve guests outside.

Skyler Hoiland is the owner and chef at the Bluestem.

“As far as restaurants go, if you haven’t been in the industry before, and a lot of people are, margins are tight with restrictions on capacity and also a few other guidelines, it’s really questioning whether it’s worth it or not. And we feel at the Bluestem Restaurant the best decision is to not be open until we can be at full 100 percent capacity” Bluestem Restaurant Owner & Chef Skyler Hoiland said.

However, he is offering take and bake meals through his catering company.

Just over 20 miles away, you’ll find more picnic tables ready for guests.

“It’s a new adventure,” Tally Ho Koffie Owner Patti Vanessen said.

Patti Vanessan is the owner of Tally Ho Koffie in Edgerton.

She started offering outdoor dining on Monday.

“If the weather cooperates, people are definitely taking advantage of being able to sit outside and go out to eat again,” Vanessen said.

She wants to see restrictions lifted.

Still, members of the business community are happy to see more places offering expanded services.

Beth Van Dyke owns the Cone Flower, which is a store just down the street from Tally Ho Koffie.

“Anytime other businesses in town have to be closed, it affects everybody. Main street was really quiet when all the businesses had to be closed and it’s so good now when you come down Main street and it’s full of cars and people are trying to get back to normal,” Cone Flower Owner Beth Van Dyke said.

Retails stores were closed for a time too, but they were allowed to reopen on May 18th.

But no matter what kind of business you operate, all of these owners seem to have something in common.

They’re grateful for the support they’ve received.

“I couldn’t be more thankful of being in a community that really cares about their small businesses and all of the businesses in their community,” Sterling said.

Even during uncertain times, that’s one thing that he and so many other business owners can count on.

Outdoor dining will continue to be allowed, with up to 250 customers and social distancing measures in place.

Places like gyms and bowling alleys will also be able to open at 25 percent capacity.

You can see the full executive order here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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