For the first time in more than two months, the doors of restaurant dining rooms will be open to customers starting Friday at 5 p.m.
However, many aspects of the dining experience will be changed.
While the new rules allow restaurants to reopen, some restrictions will remain. Restaurants are limited to 50 percent of capacity and must follow guidelines for social distancing and cleaning.
Some restaurants will be open as soon as the order goes into effect.
April Bolick, owner of the Boxcar Grille in Claremont, said her restaurant will open at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Workers were in the store Thursday making preparations -— taping menus to walls, cleaning chairs and posting a sign out front asking sick people to stay away.
The restaurant will also use disposable paper menus to prevent the spread of germs, Bolick said.
Other restaurants are waiting until after the Memorial Day holiday to welcome guests inside.
Jessica Sigmon of Callahan’s Café in Newton said the restaurant would be waiting until after Memorial Day to reopen.
Sigmon, the granddaughter of the owners, said the restaurant weathered tough times the last few months. She said she’s been working for tips alone and her grandparents are working just to pay their bills. The restaurant is planning to bring back the five employees who were laid off, Sigmon said.
Blake “Bee” Watts, owner of Shell’s Bar-B-Q in Hickory, said his restaurant will open next Wednesday.
The delay will allow employees to have a relaxed Memorial Day and provide additional time for the restaurant to prepare for customers.
He said the restaurants is waiting on an order of cloth masks for employees and will be installing a sneeze shield at the cash register.
Watts emphasized the need for customers to be patient as restaurants reopen.
“I would like everyone to be aware that we’ve had nine weeks with no service in the dining room … and it is going to be struggle,” Watts said. “It’s going to be a struggle for everyone and people are going to have to be patient.”
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.