Some north Fulton restaurant owners were surprised and frustrated by Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to reopen dine-in restaurants on Monday: Four north Fulton restaurant owners representing seven eateries say they don’t plan to open to dine-in customers on Monday, but will take a slower approach.
“We’re going to sit down and map out a rational way that we can slowly open,” said Tim Stevens, owner of From the Earth Brewing in Roswell, adding that next week his curbside takeout service will continue as it has been. His restaurant might reopen to diners within two weeks with patio seating and spaced out seating in the dining room.
Restaurant business has been limited to take-out only during the public health emergency and that has taken a toll on owners. Some said landlords where their restaurants are located have lowered rent during the crisis and now might want to return to regular rates before their businesses’ income rebounds.
Stevens must balance how much money he spends on food and alcohol with how soon people are comfortable returning to eating out, he said.
“I don’t feel people are ready to dine out,” he said, “Other restaurateurs I talked to agree.
Ryan Pernice, who owns three restaurants, Table and Main and Osteria in Roswell and Coalition in Alpharetta, also said he would delay returning to dine-in business.
Pernice said he worries about employees who don’t feel safe returning to work yet, but might lose their unemployment if they don’t come back.
“To convert three restaurants to takeout only entails a lot of recalibrations,” he said. “We thought we had another four to six weeks of this… You can’t just turn on a dime and open a restaurant (after) you’ve just figured out the takeout-only game.”
Tamara Fuller, owner of The Velvet Note in Alpharetta, does not plan to reopen to her older clientele until she is confident the coronavirus outbreak has subsided.
“We all want to get back to business tomorrow,” said Fuller. “Mine in particular is an older customer base and it adds an additional burden of responsibility that we are opening when we are confident that it’s safe.”
Jason Sheetz, owner of Hammock Trading Company and Under the Cork Tree restaurants in Sandy Springs plans to continue takeout and delivery only for now.
“I don’t see how you can maintain social distance and continue to have table service,” he said.
Some officials in north Fulton have commented on how they will go about reopening in their cities. Roswell Mayor Lori Henry issued a statement that she was forming a business task force.
“Now more than ever, our relationship with Roswell’s business community is important,” said Henry, in the statement. “It is crucial that we all work together to come up with thoughtful and measured ways to recover and get Roswell’s business community on its feet again.”
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