Tampa restaurant owners excited to open to customers again, even amid COVID-19 restrictions

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Restaurants are one of the businesses that will be allowed to open Monday with some stipulations.

That has many already preparing to open their doors to their customers excited to have people sitting inside and employees are ready to get back to work, even if it is at a very limited capacity.

717 South on South Howard is doing everything they can to keep business going during the coronavirus shutdown.

“When it first started in early March, like every restaurateur we were like, what are we going to do? We changed all of our models,” said Michael Stewart, owner of 717 South and several other restaurants.

That includes going to online orders. Something they had never done before.

“In a selfish way it was nice to hit the pause button, but that pause button has been hit and I’m ready to go. I’m excited,” said Stewart.

Ready to go after Governor DeSantis announced phase one of re-opening Florida. That includes opening up outdoor patios to restaurants while maintaining capacity at no more than 25% inside.

“Yes, it’s 25% inside, but we think that is better than nothing right? I mean, take out only wasn’t our model and servicing people is our model,” said Stewart.

Safety precautions will be made according to CDC standards. Customers at the bar will be seated 6 feet from each other, staff will serve wearing masks, and plexiglass will be installed between booths and the service station.

“I think when people come in they’re going to feel very comfortable with the precautions we make,” Stewart said.

It’s not just staff that is excited about opening. Stewart said the limited seating in the outdoor patio is already sold out for Monday.

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