Come On In, We’re Open

Local restaurants reopen their doors to the public for indoor eating for the first time since November

Ella Smith, Staff Writer/Business Manager

  Many places in the United States have been on lockdowns for a very long time, Michigan being one of them. Just recently, the state allowed restaurants to reopen indoor dining for the first time since November. In March, Gov. Whitmer announced the shutdown of restaurants for a short period of time and had been temporarily closing them nearly every other month. In November, she announced a shutdown of restaurants that extended until Feb. 1. Many teenagers lost their jobs due to the lack of needed staff while only take-out was available, including junior Peter Worden. 

  “For me personally, the reopening likely won’t mean much in terms of work because while they are reopening [Grand Traverse Pie Company] on Front Street, they are not opening the one on Park Street until April because there won’t be enough customers until then. Because only one location is opening they are only bringing staff that works part-time and since the restaurant is only allowed 25 percent seating capacity. I likely won’t be brought back possibly until the summer. I am excited that we are finally reopening, however, and it will be good to see my co-workers again,” Worden said. 

  When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, most teenagers who worked in restaurants thought that they would be back to work after the two-week “vacation” from school. They soon learned that they would not be returning to school or work for a while. 

  “In the beginning not having to work was pretty nice because work could be pretty stressful and I am in the back of the shop, essentially cut off from other people so I was more or less in isolation washing dishes. Over time, I would say that I began to miss it more and more because of the people, and not having a stable income can be pretty stressful when you have monthly payments on your phone and car,” Worden said. 

  A lot of people are nervous about the reopening of restaurants because of possible safety issues. As well as the issues that came with not working for a while.

  “I just went back to work recently for the first time since November. It felt so good to be back but it was definitely rough not being able to work for months,” senior Amalia Gaines said. 

  Returning to work will be a major change for many people to go through after not working for anywhere between a few weeks to months, especially teenagers. Most will have to consider the health and safety concerns that come with returning to restaurant work where people are taking off their masks to eat around others. 

  “I think that things will definitely go back to normal eventually but I’m not sure if I will still be there [Grand Traverse Pie Company] when they do. I’m hoping that this summer, things will start to die down and restrictions will start being lifted but I think it will be at least a year or maybe longer before we can seat at full capacity and don’t have to wear masks. Because I’m a junior this year there’s a chance work will have COVID guidelines until my graduation,” Worden said. 

  Something many overlook is the choice that restaurant owners make when deciding if the reward is greater than the risk such as employee safety, customer safety, and liability. 

  “At the restaurant, I work at we have a time limit on all tables, people have to wear their masks at all times unless they’re eating or drinking, we can only have tables up to six people, no matter what. And obviously, we have to sanitize everything,” Gaines said. 

  Most restaurants though opened up for takeout much later into last year and remain that way going into this year. Some students were able to return to work. Junior Maicyn Alpers worked doing takeout, during the times when restaurants were closed to indoor dining.

  “It’s been kind of stressful because there’s a lot more new protocols that we have to do, as the limited capacity and it’s harder to work in a mask because it can get hot,” Alpers said.