One month in, bars & restaurants serving more customers

Eye on KELOLAND

It’s been nearly one month since Sioux Falls lifted it’s no lingering law, which put tight restrictions on businesses; limiting their customers to no more than 10.

It forced a lot of bars and restaurants to close their doors, but now that a lot of them have reopened, we thought we’d check back in with a couple to find out how they’re doing.

When we first visited the Gateway Lounge back in late May, owner Jackson Rentschler was busy cleaning and getting the place ready to reopen after being shut down for more than a month.

He told us at the time, he was a little nervous about protecting his customers and staff from COVID-19.

Today, he says he’s not as concerned, but he and his staff still take a lot of precautions to clean and social distance, which he says is tough at times; especially on the weekends when his bar and restaurant get busy.

“People are getting a little bit more comfortable, they are seeing their neighbors go out, just slowly kind of getting back into it, but you definitely notice a difference,” Rentschler said.

One of his regular customers, Sam Bucknell and her dog ‘Bo’ have noticed a difference too.

“It’s been really nice to go back out into the community; meet with friends, kind of feel back to normal again and it’s really nice seeing some of the businesses that are trying to keep up with some of the restrictions, but also just getting back into the swing of things,” Sam Bucknell said.

Rentschler says he’s still not back to full capacity, because of social distancing, he removed some tables and made other changes.

“They’re still kind of spread out, we still only have one pool table and we don’t have our darts back yet, but I see that in the near future bringing those back in,” Rentschler said.

In Lake County, the Shipwreck Bar and Grill in Chester never shut down.

“We were nervous about that at first, being a small community, whether there might be some negative comments or pushback, but honestly it’s been quite the opposite,” John said.

Owners John and Melissa Dougan say their customers are appreciative that they made the decision to stay open.

“Melissa and I talked about it, if not daily, hourly almost, because everybody wants to do the right thing,” John said.

They say their main priorities were protecting their customers, staff, and the community and that hasn’t changed.

“We already did a lot of cleaning but we just did a lot more, a lot more sanitizing during the day before we open and a lot throughout the whole shift cleaned everything off the tables,” Melissa said.

Now they’re slowly putting tables and chairs back to where they once were, but still not at capacity. They say ever since Sioux Falls lifted the restrictions they’ve noticed a lot more people out enjoying themselves.

“I think people are really excited to get out of their homes and get off the quarantine and off regulations and get back to normal,” John said.

“A lot more people are coming out whether it’s a short stay or long stay people are coming out and I think in part it is because Sioux Falls opened up so it makes people feel a little more comfortable,” John said.

But the pandemic is not over. Health officials warn us until there’s a vaccine we’ll still be seeing cases of COVID-19.

“I don’t necessarily have the fear, just based on some of the stats and some of the things we are seeing right now, just feel like things are controlled really well and a lot of people are doing their best to try and keep the economy going, but also making sure people can go back to work and try to maintain that normal we used to have,” Bucknell said.

But will we ever get back to normal or will reopening be a Gateway to another Pandemic Wreck? Only time will tell.

Neither bar and restaurants are back to full capacity due to social distancing, in fact both say they’re operating at about 60%.

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

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