Gov. Whitmer’s most recent indoor dining ban has been lifted as of Tuesday, Feb. 1, and restaurants throughout the state are considering their options, seeing if the benefits outweigh the costs of opening their dining rooms.
The following are local restaurants that have opened their dining rooms at the allotted 25% capacity: Saucy Dog’s Barbeque, Johnny T’s Bistro, The Hunt Club of Hillsdale, Finish Line Family Restaurant, El’ Cerrito Mexican Bar & Grill, Cavoni’s Pizza & Grinders, Rough Draft, Jilly Bean’s Coffee House, The Local Eatery, Healthies of Hillsdale, and Handmade.
This year of intermittent dining bans has been particularly hard on restaurants like The Local Eatery and Healthies of Hillsdale, who both opened their doors in 2019 because they have yet to form a regular customer base.
The Local Eatery owner Dena Walters described this goal, which has been severely hindered by these state-wide lockdowns, as a “quintessential step for any newly opened business.”
Walters said The Local Eatery, along with other restaurants of this kind across the state, are now striving to “make up for lost time.” She said The Local Eatery has been holding daily deals since the order was lifted, in an attempt to rectify this situation.
Other restaurants in the area took a different approach and didn’t shut down at all. Spangler’s Family Restaurant in Jonesville stayed open during the order, receiving and paying off daily government fines. Owner Mitch Spangler said in a Facebook post that the initial Michigan shut down proved to be a “hard hit” to their business.
When asked if he was shutting business again, Spangler said, “No, I’m not.”
For both Spangler and the restaurant as a whole, the pros of remaining in-person outweighed the cons of paying the MDHHS’ fines.
Handmade also stayed open during the December ban on in-person dining.
Some local restaurants, such as Burgers Unlocked and Biggby Coffee, will keep their dining rooms closed for the time being. Currently, both restaurants are providing take-out options, and plan to continue.
Biggby Coffee does have plans to reopen, according to supervisor Levi Stoll, but only once a 75% or higher capacity is allowed by the state.
“For us at 25%, we’d only really be able to open two tables, which wouldn’t change things enough to make cleaning worth it,” Stoll said.