Some restaurants in Wilkes took advantage of being able to reopen their indoor dining areas to limited capacity starting Friday, while others cautiously delayed plans to resume sit-down service.
Under Gov. Roy Cooper’s second phase for easing COVID-19-related restrictions, which began at 5 p.m. Friday, restaurants had the option of reopening for on-premises dining, at mostly a 50% capacity, with distancing and cleaning requirements. No more than 10 people were allowed at a table unless they’re in the same family.
Sit-down dining inside state restaurants had been closed since Cooper’s order on March 17.
At 6th and Main restaurant and bar on 6th Street in North Wilkesboro, owner Heather Forester said she served four tables on Friday and six on Saturday. “I didn’t advertise we were opened yet, as my husband (Jimmy Forester) is a little worried about ‘full on’ opening due to his parents. They are older and we don’t want to expose them to anything.”
She said the Foresters are feeling better about plans for reopening at the allowed indoor capacity. “We will continue to operate reservation-only for a few more weeks and hopefully return to a little more normalcy soon.”
Monte de Rey, a Mexican restaurant off Winkler Street/U.S. 421 West in Wilkesboro, also reopened at 5 p.m. Friday. “We have some good news finally! We will be sanitizing everything after every customer, and will be (seating) every other table. Servers will have masks on and will be taking careful precautions. We can’t wait to serve you!” the restaurant posted on Facebook.
Another Mexican eatery, La Fortuna off D Street in North Wilkesboro, posted Friday it was “not quite ready” to reopen its dining rooms and will continue to do take-out orders only until then. “We will be reopening our dining areas soon at 50% capacity. Please remember to be patient during this process to ensure everyone’s safety. There will be long waits for tables so plan ahead. We will not accept reservations or call-ahead seating, it will be first-come, first-served.”
The Brushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery in Wilkesboro reopened interior dining at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and also started closing again at 9 p.m. “We’re going to take some time and make sure we’re ready,” said co-owner Todd Swofford on Friday. He said seating would be limited to 50% capacity, staff would be donning personal protective equipment and the facility was freshly sanitized.
The Dispensary Restaurant & Pub in North Wilkesboro said Tuesday that it would offer takeout and delivery options only because it’s not feasible to open inside dining while limited to half-capacity. “This Phase 2 thing is more symbolic than useful,” said co-owner Brad Luty. “It will get better; it’s just going to take some time.”
Dooley’s of Wilkesboro opened outside dining but not inside seating on Friday, expanding the restaurant’s curb-side and 10-mile-radius delivery options. Co-owner Seth Cohn said Friday this will allow him to finish remodeling and reprogramming of a new point-of-sale inside.
Cohn added that TwoBoros Brewery will reopen when breweries that serve alcohol are allowed to resume operations. Cooper’s latest executive order allowed breweries to open because they have an ABC permit to produce alcoholic beverages for commercial sales off-site, but on-site sales are still prohibited.
Among other local restaurants that announced reopened dining rooms at 50% capacity on Friday were Applebee’s, McDonald’s, Glenn’s, Cagney’s Kitchen, Sagebrush, Coach’s, Amalfi’s, Hardee’s, Almost on the Lake, Dine-N-Dash and Olive Garden of Wilkesboro. In North Wilkesboro, dining rooms were open at Dom Bakeries, Park Place Depot, Village Inn Pizza, T.J.’s Cafe and Talia Espresso. Also reopening were the Millers Creek Sandwich Shop and the Country Corner Café in Ronda.