LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In just three days, restaurants across Arkansas have the option to open their doors and let customers inside to sit down and enjoy a meal.
On Wednesday, April 29, Gov. Hutchinson announced that restaurants can open limited dine-in services starting Monday, May 11.
This comes with several limitations, which is why some are deciding against it while others are ready for things to feel a little more normal again.
Leslie Cotton, Purple Cow Director of Operations, said her whole team is ready to go.
“We know we have to tweak some things, but we’re really excited,” she said.
For the staple Arkansas diner, Cotton said deciding to let customers back in on Monday was a no-brainer.
“We’ve spent all of this time, without having guests in the dining room, focusing on cleaning standards and sanitation and disinfecting practices, and really revitalizing our restaurants and getting ready to open,” she said.
Starting next week every employee must wear masks and gloves, hand sanitizer will be available throughout the restaurant, only disposable and online menus will be used, and limited seating will be allowed inside and out.
Cotton said constant cleaning is at the heart of it all.
“As we open the doors in the morning, we will be doing a deep clean and then at night a deep cleaning, and having a dedicated person to clean throughout the shift while we’re open, so we are constantly disinfecting and sanitizing,” she said.
While the Purple Cow restaurants prepare, Dillon Garcia, General Manager for The Pizzeria in the Heights, said the restrictions are holding them back from opening.
“For us, it was simply about not wanting the dining room to look like an operating theater to serve 17 people at a time,” he said.
From the capacity limit to food sales increasing during this time, to not having the ability to provide customers with the pizza joint’s full atmosphere, Garcia said the decision was easy.
“If we can’t provide that experience, we don’t see the point in reopening just yet,” he said.
Garcia said The Pizzeria will most likely stick to takeout until they can have 75% or more of their dining room full.
The Purple Cow will be ready to serve customers inside at 11 a.m. on Monday at all five of their locations, except in Hot Springs.
The kitchen is currently undergoing a floor completion, so management isn’t sure if it will be ready just yet.
Yellow Rocket Concepts announced Friday that they are not opening for dine-in services on May 11. That includes Lost Forty Brewing, Local Lime, Heights Taco & Tamale, ZaZa, and Big Orange.
They are using the next week to train on new procedures, implement new technology, and clean. The restaurants will still offer take-away, delivery, and curbside pick-up and will decide about dine-in services at a later date.