Restaurants, bars reopen outdoor seating, managers expect a busy weekend

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Bars and restaurants reopened Friday under phase three of the Restore Illinois plan.

It was the first time people could eat at restaurants since March 17.

“We decided this morning, let’s go, let’s do it,” said Dennis Mortland, a customer at Original Pancake House in Peoria.

Many of the morning’s customers were eager to be back.

Carol Rhodes called ahead and made a reservation at One World Cafe in Peoria.

“And they told me I was the first one to make one,” said Rhodes.

Restaurant managers are already seeing regulars, like Carol, return.

“It’s been great, you know. People are really excited to be out,” said Tom Poole, the general manager at Original Pancake House.

They expect a busy weekend.

“Based on our reservation book for tonight and tomorrow night, I know that we’re going to have a big rush. I’m already basically full,” said Jack Crouch, the manager at One World Cafe.

If you’re going out to eat, it looks different: masks, gloves, and distance.

“People are very respectful regarding the social distancing and understanding on the way we have to operate now,” said Poole.

Tables are six feet apart and there are limits on large groups.

“Our capacity now is probably at like 25 percent of what it used to be,” said Crouch.

But some customers say they’re comfortable with the new restrictions.

“It’s all for our safety measures and I’m good with it all,” said Rhodes.

They think as time passes, more people will have an appetite for going out again.

“I hope people do come out and support the small businesses here in Peoria, because they really need it, need it bad,” said Mortland.

Managers at both One World Cafe and Original Pancake House say for people who are not ready to eat out, you’ll still be able to order take out or delivery.

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