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Some Tallahassee restaurants re-open with extra precautions

Posted at 11:39 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 23:39:52-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — For the first time in a month, friends are finally able to meet again for lunch.

On Monday, restaurants in Florida were allowed to open their dining rooms at 25 percent capacity.

It's part of the state's phase one reopening.

While some restaurants dusted off the tables and started seating customers once again, others decided to wait a little while longer.

Railroad Square Craft House decided to make use of its big patio space, Sweet Pea Cafe decided now just isn't the time.

The debate has customers just as split as restaurant owners.

Justine Spells is a partner at Railroad Square Crafthouse. She says the day Governor DeSantis ordered dining rooms to close, the business took a big hit.

"Mixed emotions for sure," said Spells. "Definitely excited to see people in the space again but definitely nervous about everything and making sure that we're not ground zero for another outbreak or a second wave."

Outside patios and dining areas are limited only by social distancing guidelines, tables 6 feet apart with parties no larger than 10 people.

"We removed all of the tables in this taproom, all of the bar stools," said Spells. "We thinned out all of the tables, and they're actually spaced out more than 6 feet apart. They're more like 8 to 10 feet apart."

Spells said April sales fell by 79 percent.

"We didn't even break even last month," said Spells.

"That's one of the biggest reasons we're here today," said Tessa Israel, a Tallahassee resident. "We know how much the economy has been impacted. We definitely want to impact local businesses."

But across town at Sweet Pea Cafe, that financial impact is not enough to get owners to open up dining there. For now, take out is the only option.

"For now, we're saying the foreseeable future," said Zachary Leslie, the manager of Sweet Pea Cafe. "A lot of people say when the curve flattens. We'll gauge it then. We'll stretch it longer than other people will."

A stretch that has customers anxiously waiting for its reopening.

"We have gotten a decent amount of messages, if we are opening or not, seating for brunch," Leslie said. "But no, we're not going to."

Keeping everything clean is a top priority for many of the business owners and customers.

Both restaurants are requiring employees wear masks and gloves while keeping the building sanitized throughout the day, and Sweet Pea is asking customers not to pay with cash.