Restaurants Ask: To Open Or Not To Open?

Vino 209 is one of the restaurants that has reopened at 50% capacity. Pictured here is the sharable plate Caponata-roasted eggplant.

Writer: Karla Walsh

“No one created a business model that profits at 50% capacity, so these decisions are difficult for operators,” says Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association.

That challenging position Dunker is referring to is what every restaurant owner in town had to consider last Wednesday when Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that Iowa restaurants could reopen at 50% of normal capacity at 5 a.m. last Friday. Is it better to stay closed or stick with curbside? Or readjust and reopen the dining room?

To help guide those who choose to open their doors—and those patrons who decide to dine out—the Iowa Restaurant Association created the “Iowa Hospitality Promise,” which vows that restaurants will properly social-distance tables, clean and sanitize all tables and chairs after each use, offer hand sanitizer at the entrance/exit and more. In partnership, diners should stay home if they have any underlying health conditions, if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing any symptoms of the virus.

Managing Partner Chris Diebel said Bubba hired a company to deep-clean and disinfect their restaurant top to bottom overnight each night, and they also spent two days last week measuring and moving furniture to ensure it’s properly distanced to meet all safety standards. They reopened for in-house service on Saturday.

In addition to Diebel’s Southern-inspired downtown restaurant, the following venues also reopened Friday through today: Angry GoldfishThe Club Car Restaurant and LoungeCooper’s on 5thCourt Avenue Restaurant and Brewing Co., The Dam PubEggs and Jam, Gilroy’sG. Mig’s., Irina’s Restaurant and BarJethro’s BBQLouie’s Wine DiveRange Restaurant and Cocktail BarTeddy Maroon’sVino 209Waveland Cafe, and Wellman’s Pub (Ingersoll and West Glen).

If you’re not comfortable pulling up a chair in a dining room outside of your home quite yet, the restaurants below could use your carryout support as well since their dining rooms will remain closed for the time being as they prepare to reopen later on.

*Note that this is not a definitive list of locally owned restaurants who have or have not opened, but was accurate and as thorough as possible at press time.

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