Metro-east restaurants are opening their dining rooms to customers again after being closed to indoor dining since Oct. 28.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced that restaurants can reopen as of Feb. 3 after weeks of being restricted to curbside and carry out service only.
As winter continues, restaurant owners and employees are getting a break as they are now allowed up to 50 percent capacity indoors. In addition, there are size restrictions on parties of more than 10 people.
For Sugo’s Spaghetteria, the new guidelines mean they will open inside but are hoping to continue their high curbside sales. General Manager Micah Hopkin said their curbside service revenue was good, something that he said other restaurants didn’t have as much luck with.
“We’ve been very fortunate and have been a little higher [compared to others],” Hopkin said. “Our regular clientele and the community’s support has allowed us to stay open.”
Hopkin said they are open indoors, although more than 25 percent of their profits are still coming from curbside. He said the pandemic has created a new business opportunity for his restaurant.
“It’s intense because it’s tough on [the kitchen staff],” Hopkin said. “You have the dining room and now we’ve built up this new business [with curbside]. I hope it stays and we can just prepare for it.”
Sugo’s hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for indoor service and curbside.
Foundry Public House, located on Edwardsville’s Main Street, decided to stay open indoors in violation of restrictions that were in place for restaurants in late October. A move that a select few restaurants opted to do.
Server and bartender Ellie Kayser said they allowed indoor dining with limited seating, but their carry-out orders came in steadily. She said carry-out helped the restaurant enough to make it worth their while.
“For us servers, not very much [money came from carry-out], but for the restaurant it was decent,” Kayser said.
Kayser said she admits people eating in restaurants during the pandemic may not be the best route, but she believes people are ready to.
“Yes, it’s still a little scary, but I think more people are ready than not [to go out and eat]. We are still trying to figure out our hours of operation right now,” Kayser said.
Kayser said the temporary hours of Foundry Public House is open Monday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Tuesday 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Around the corner, Dewey’s Pizza has begun indoor service too. The once-busy pizza joint saw a difference in customer traffic since the pandemic made them shut down indoor dining as well.
Server Julann Scheibal said she and her fellow employees are excited to be able to open doors to their customers once again.
“This weekend has been such a great weekend because we have all missed seeing customers, especially our regulars, serving [tables] and the customers missed being able to just get out and eat pizza and have a beer,” Scheibal said. “It’s been nice, to say the least.”
When Dewey’s couldn’t have customers inside, Scheibal said they continued doing curbside and carry-out. She said that without the locals’ and customers’ support, she and her coworkers wouldn’t have been able to make it.
“If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have made a whole lot of money to live off of, but the weekends and special holidays were generally pretty good,” Scheibal said. “Weekdays, especially mornings, were pretty bad just because most people want to eat in if they’re going to get a more expensive meal than fast food.”
Scheibal said they are taking extra precautions by following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines along with continuing to wear masks, and enforcing all customers to wear them until they are seated at their table, cleaning the tables after every guest and using pre-packaged condiments.
Dewey’s Pizza is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.