This week, Palm Beach County restaurants were allowed to offer dining room (inside and outdoor) service for 50 percent of the venues’ capacity. We asked restaurant owners and managers from Boca Raton to Jupiter about the response they received from customers.
“Our first week back was a little bright spot in our long journey back to normal,” said Eric Baker, owner of Boca’s The Rebel House. “50% capacity is the most that a majority of restaurants will be able to enjoy while social distancing practices are employed. There is only so much real estate within a confined space to expand one’s capacity. Some restaurants in Palm Beach county are benefiting from city measures to expand outdoor seating, but not every restaurant is so lucky.”
“Business sales have increased 14 percent overall and lobster roll sales have increased 34 percent recently,” said Merrie Rose, owner of Brighton Beach Bagel & Bakery in Delray Beach. “Thanks to takeout sales, we have also gained new customers and the ones that are dining again in the restaurant are thrilled that we are open. They see that we are on top of updated protocols with our thorough cleaning and sanitation procedures including sanitizing each table before and after every guest, and our staff changes gloves after every transaction and customer order. Additionally, all of our staff including in the kitchen are prepared with gloves and masks that are freshly replenished throughout the day as needed.”
“Our first week of reopening exceeded my expectations in many ways,” said Burt Rapoport. His restaurant group owns and operates Max’s Grille, Prezzo, Burt & Max’s and Deck 84. “Our staff embraced our new safety and sanitation protocols and were extremely conscientious. Our customers were so appreciative of us being open to serve them. We received compliments on our safety, service and food from almost every group that came in, and were busier than we expected we would be for the first week. We hope this continues throughout the summer.”
Annie Blake, co-owner of Delray Beach’s Death or Glory said, “We are so very grateful to be able to open Death or Glory. Fifty percent capacity, lack of bar seating, and social distancing is a challenge and not sustainable for the long term, but it was so nice to see the outpouring of support and friendly faces. We are also very thankful for everyone’s patience as we adjust to this new normal, with our top priority being the health and safety of our staff and guests.”
“We’re off to a good start! We are able to serve a few more people inside and that is helpful when the weather does not cooperate,” said Todd Herbst, co-owner of Big Time Restaurant Group (Louie Bossi’s, Elisabetta’s, City Oyster, City Cellar and more).
“For the most part, it’s been super positive, said Lee Morris, general manager and culinary director at Jupiter’s 1000 NORTH. “Since the governor made the decision to open up inside dining services and to allow us to use our patio, the phones have been ringing for reservations. I think we actually got a phone call while the governor was still on TV.
“The biggest challenge for us has been trying to figure out how to keep our guests and our employees safe. There is still a real threat of COVID-19 spreading in Palm Beach County, and we want to make sure that every guest and every employee remains safe and healthy.
“1000 NORTH is adhering to every guideline to ensure a 6-foot distance between our tables and only seating the allowed number of people within the dining room. Every employee and guest gets their temperature taken before entering the building.”
“Our team is thrilled to welcome back familiar faces to our dining rooms,” said Max Piet, president and CEO of TooJay’s Deli. “We respect that guests are cautious, so reopening will be a gradual process. For those who are not ready to dine-in, we have convenient takeout, curbside pick-up and delivery. Although eating out may look a little different right now, we are feeling more confident each day and continue to provide the great TooJay’s food and service that our guests love.”