In the restaurant world, the difficulty of getting a table is a sign of the prestige of the establishment and the quality of the food. For the past few months though it has been impossible to get a table at any restaurant in the state as a ban on dine-in service was enacted to slow the spread of COVID-19. In response, restauranteurs pivoted laying off staff, offering take-out, delivery service, and in some cases even groceries to keep their businesses afloat.
Those restrictions were eased prior to Memorial Day in Northern Michigan and the UP. And on June 1st, Governor Whitmer signed executive orders relaxing restrictions on restaurants in the remainder of the state, allowing restaurants to reopen for dine-in service starting June 8th. The Beacon reached out to a variety of local eateries for comment on how they have weathered the past few months and their plans going forward.
In a statement to the Beacon, a representative from McDonald’s on Grand River Ave shared that, “our locally owned McDonald’s has been able to remain open, serving customers through both our drive-thru and mobile order and pay options. As we continue to move forward, we plan to expand our services and will keep you and the community updated on that process.” Those who have recently gone through the drive-through have noticed the now ubiquitous plexiglass shields at the pickup window, and masked employees.
In a statement on their Facebook page, owners of the Kent Street wine tasting room The Port, Brian and Merry Hass shared that they plan to reopen for dine-in service on June 11th. “We are excited to be able to open our doors next week! We have moved half our tables, chairs, and barstools out while moving in a lot of sanitation products. We are very thankful for our large space and are happy we can still seat up to 46 people at a time,” Hass said. The Port will continue offering curbside pick up by request. Their hours moving forward will be Thursdays 6-9 pm and Fridays and Saturdays 3-9 pm. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and the rest of the day Saturday are reserved for private events including painting, sign making, and candle making parties.
Fabiano’s River House Bar and Grill adapted by reassigning their servers as delivery drivers the past few months, a service they did not previously offer. A week ago, they unofficially reopened the patio at “The Point,” for those who ordered take out. Recently they announced their reopening of the patio on June 8th a minute after midnight. They will be serving a limited food menu with, “...drinks, drinks, and more drinks,” according to a statement on their Facebook page.
Perhaps the most dramatic story of any Portland restaurateur is that of Tanya Schneider, owner of Courageous Coffee. As reported previously in The Beacon, Schneider’s new coffee shop on Bridge Street was due to open earlier this year after two years of painstaking renovations. In fact, Schneider told the Beacon they, “...completed the work and received...approval from the health inspector, and two days later the stay home order began.”
“...after speaking with our employees, we decided to make the best of the situation and to begin opening with a limited menu and train as we go,” she said. Over the past month, the coffee shop gradually increased their hours, days of operations and menu offerings, launching their full menu, and store hours this past week. Speaking for the broader small business community, Schenider said. “our little city is wrapping their (socially distanced) arms around us small businesses with so much love and care. They're fighting for us to keep our doors open. My heart is so overwhelmed with joy day after day to see so many people stopping in to support us and help us survive this….this gives us so much hope that ‘every little thing is going to be ok’ and this too shall pass.”
PHOTO: Jordan D. Smith