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Some Tallahassee restaurants face backlash after choosing not to fully reopen indoor capacity

Posted at 6:11 PM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 18:11:14-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Restaurants across Tallahassee aren't rushing to pack their dining rooms after Governor DeSantis' announced the move into Phase Three of reopening on Friday.

"So far, there's at least 25 restaurants that have said that they are going to stick with the status quo," said Rochelle Koff, a blogger with Tallahassee Table Food.

Koff sifts through social media comments on whether its safe for restaurants to seat their dining rooms to capacity. She says she's seeing animosity on both sides of the table.

"You get the people who say they're not going to go to any restaurant that's not going to follow the 50 percent, keep at 50 percent and then you have other people who say, 'Well everybody should have a freedom of what to do,'" Koff said. "The restaurants and customers should be able to decide what they want to do."

Kool Beanz Cafe owner Keith Baxter say he doesn't plan to seat at 100 percent capacity any time soon.

"I think it's different for everybody, to me it doesn't suit Kool Beanz," said Baxter. "We're going to stay as we are. If we go to 100 percent, it arises a lot more different challenges to what we've had. It complicates things."

Baxter spoke out on social media, advocating for peers in the industry that, like him, choose to keep their dining room numbers low. Their decision was largely met by support, although some took issue.

"It was construed as shaming people," Baxter said.

"Some of the restaurants have talked about, not just that they're going to keep their policy but, I was talking a lot about how it's dangerous and irresponsible to open up more, so I think they are interpreting that as shaming and I don't think that's necessarily the intention there," said Koff. "I think these restaurants are just explaining why they're sticking to what they're doing."

"I think to open up bars and restaurants at 100 percent capacity is very scary," said Stacy Wheeler, a customer at Kool Beanz. "COVID-19 transmits so easily that I think you're asking for trouble."

Wheeler says she only plans to visit places that err on the side of caution.

Local governments can still place restrictions on capacity between 50 and 100 percent.