The Hunt Club is one of the many restau­rants in Hillsdale that has reopened limited indoor seating. Courtesy | Collegian

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.