Restaurant Dining Room Reopenings Surge as Gov. Kemp Updates Guidelines

Marcel, Beetlecat, Nan Fine Dining, and more, are welcoming guests back to dine-in this week.

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Reopening restaurant dining rooms might have seemed taboo as recently as the end of April, but some of the City’s most notable eateries have announced plans to come back online after being forced to temporarily close last month to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

A surge in reopening announcements arrives as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp Tuesday updated safety guidelines restaurants must enact in order to reopen by way of an Executive Order (click here to see the original 39 guidelines).

The updated Executive Order, which will go into effect Thursday, May 14 at 12:00 a.m., and end at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 31, can be downloaded here.

It was mostly updated to change the reopening timeline for bars, nightclubs, and entertainment venues (like The Cheetah Lounge which is resurfacing June 1) from May 15 to May 31.

While many Atlanta-area eateries restarted dine-in service the week of Monday, April 27, a growing list of restauranteurs, felt it was too soon.

Apparently two-ish weeks later was the right timing for some of those operators.

Ford Fry of Rocket Farm Restaurants, even after having to temporarily shutter Little Rey when an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus, will reopen Marcel and Beetlecat for dine-in service starting May 18.

Several of the chef’s other eateries, including J.C.T. Kitchen, The Optimist, and Superica, remain open for takeout only.

Tamarind Restaurant Group, the company behind Nan Thai Fine Dining, Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft, and Chai Yo Modern Thai, will also reopen its restaurants for dining-in starting May 15.

Here are some other recently-opened dining rooms:

U restaurants (Sotto Sotto, Fritti, Escorpión, Novo Cucina)

Now Open

” After two months of safely serving to our community the best to go food we could ( my apologies to those whose order we messed up), we have decided to reopen our dining rooms and patios to customers. We provide our service staff with brand new KN95 and surgical masks for every shift, as well as gloves, which they will be wearing as a mandatory requirement. We follow all guidelines and regulations for reopening, so our table availability will be limited. If you feel like getting out for dinner, let us know and make a reservation, we are returning to our regular hours of operation.We look forward to seeing you again”

Vortex, Midtown

Now Open

“On May 1st, I posted a BLOG about how this closure has impacted our business. The blog link is here: Today we are opening The Vortex-Midtown for Dine-In AND Take-Out service, with our complete menu. Until further notice, we will continue to operate The Vortex-L5P for Take-Out Service ONLY, with a limited menu, and we are continuing to offer all beer at 50 percent off regular prices.”

Word of Mouth Restaurants (Arnette’s, Haven, Valenza, Vero)

Now Open

“It is with great optimism and a poised sense of resolve that we are pleased to announce the re-opening of our dining rooms starting today. While we will certainly continue to offer our extensive take-out amenities at all of our restaurants, we are extremely excited to welcome you back into our actual dining rooms and onto our patios! Please scroll through the content below to see our new adjusted hours of operation. As you are all aware the restaurant industry has been one of the hardest-hit small business sectors during the outbreak of COVID-19. We are not at the point where the virus has been completely eradicated, but we look at this next phase of ‘dining at your favorite restaurants’ as a means of healing our spirits and reconnecting in such a way to nourish our souls. We are very proud to operate our restaurants and serve as small business leaders within our immediate community and the greater Atlanta area for the past 16 plus years. Moreover, we are very fortunate that we have remained in business during the duration of this pandemic. It is certainly a testament to the strength of our immediate community and the loyalty of our dedicated family of employees. We have enjoyed the good fortune of our restaurant company developing and growing as our community transitioned into a ‘must live here’ neighborhood and city. The safety and well-being of our staff and our guests are paramount. During the coming weeks and months, it will be imperative for us to instill within our guests and our employees a certain level of confidence and reassurance as it pertains to dining in public eateries in what we will soon come to know as our “new normal.” Our management team has spent a lot of time over the course of the past few weeks looking at how we could carefully and successfully operate the restaurants within the parameters stipulated in the state of Georgia’s Executive Order regarding COVID-19. As for the guidance relating to employee and customer health, food management certification, personal hygiene, cleaning/sanitizing, and contactless technology services we are confident of the measures that we are presently implementing and carefully monitoring. The mandates of the Governor’s Executive Order also greatly reduces the number of guests that we can accommodate within our dining spaces. The formula calls for 10 patrons allowed in the facility per 500 square feet of public space. Therefore, when you do decide to pay us a visit, please be prepared for some logistical adjustments to the overall dining experience. We understand that this next step of the process will require adjustments for both our guests and our staff. However, we will certainly execute these new necessary measures of the dining experience with the same level of hospitality and sincerity that you have grown accustomed to for many years. We have been very creative with our food and beverage offerings and have worked diligently to stay in business since March 16th. At this time, we must again apply this same level of creativity and ingenuity to how we operate successfully under the updated state of Georgia’s “in-facility social distancing restrictions.” Please stayed tuned as we will certainly continue to update you on all of our restaurant concepts and how we will adjust them in order to remain successful throughout this re-opening period. Looking forward to bringing us all back together….well, for now, just 6 feet apart!”

Monkey 68

Open Now

“The Roswell restaurant has reopened its dining room and outdoor patio, with seating capacity reduced by half. Reservations are highly recommended and available via Tock.”

[Editor’s note: The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is rapidly evolving as is its effect on Atlanta, and the City’s businesses and its residents. Click here for What Now Atlanta’s ongoing coverage of the crisis. For guidance and updates on the pandemic, please visit the C.D.C. website.]

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

14 Responses

  1. As much as I love our neighborhood restaurants, it’s gonna be a while before we consider
    dining in.
    Being served food by people in masks and gloves is really unappealing to me…

    1. No matter what happens now with government edicts and virus curves, this is the trillion dollar question: how long will it take to overcome the financial and psychological trauma inflicted by the virus and lockdowns?

        1. RE: Wisconsin

          I think the world is in a panic that goes FAR beyond what is merited by epidemiology, and I believe that economic collapse will ultimately kill more people than Covid, but I am, uh, not trying to party in a packed sports bar. This is how the authoritarians end up winning.

          1. The lockdown was done to prevent overwhelming the hospitals and to curb transmission of C-19– a virus that we’re still learning quite a bit about.
            This will not be the last pandemic to come along, and the next one could be much more fatal. So maybe we should look at this as a ‘dry run’ and learn from it.
            It really is interesting how incensed people have become over
            being required to stay home– we have rogue militias trying to start a civil war over this. Geez…

      1. We’re supporting our restaurants with carryout, and will continue to do so.
        Grocery shopping has always stressed me out.
        Twice this week I planned on going shopping and just couldn’t do it. The mask fogs up my glasses, and it makes it harder to breath which just adds to the
        anxiety of shopping.
        On the third day, I decided to give Kroger delivery (via Instacart) a whirl.
        I spent about an hour searching for everything I needed and checked out online.
        I was in heaven– momentarily…
        I started getting texts from the shopper letting me know that she was
        substituting items that I had asked for. Some items were deleted– I guess they were out of stock.
        So I got a mish-mash of groceries– and no mushrooms for our mushroom stroganoff tomorrow night.
        Hopefully Savi has mushrooms…

          1. I used to love my Savi too.
            However the owner sold the Inman Park and Decatur locations, and things have changed quite a bit.
            They had my shrooms though!

  2. I’m glad restaurants are reopening their dining rooms. I’ll be happy to support them as much as possible. For months I’ve been waiting for life to get back to normal the way it’s been before this manufactured pandemic

    1. It will never be the way it was,pre covid19,I can’t believe the behavior of people not wanting to wear masks and not being able to go out to eat.What if this is how it’s going to be from now on,teaching and raising your own kid,cooking and cleaning your own home,apt or whatever,I’ve never heard of such squeamish women of today,start being a woman,a mom and a responsible adult and not so entitled.

  3. I just have a hard time seeing this be successful. Restaurants already operate on such thin margins. It seems that even if some portion of people stay away, that might be a death sentence.

    We’ve avoided overloading our hospitals. But there are a lot of people – especially those with underlying conditions – that won’t fully re-engage with society until and unless there’s a vaccine or more effective treatments.

    1. Totally agree. Restaurants are screwed at this point no matter what.

      The CDC data is incredibly compelling. Older/vulnerable people absolutely should continue to quarantine. Everyone else should do so only if they feel like it.

      Of the 55k deaths cataloged by CDC, fewer than 1,500 were under age 45. There are comorbidities in 93% of the deaths (generally meaning underlying/chronic health problems). Young, healthy people simply are not dying in significant numbers.

      That’s why I say the panic is way overblown. Not to make light of a major public health issue.

      1. I agree with you that the economic impact is going to be far worse than the direct impact. I’m not sure I’d characterize it as overblown, though. The speed of the virus meant you had to assume the worst case and take actions conservatively based on that. To the extent that measures taken were an over-reaction, they were a calculated over-reaction.

        Even now, there’s a lot of uncertainty. For example, there seems to be some evidence that it leaves even healthy people with long term effects like decreased lung function. We also don’t know if recovering from the virus gives immunity to it. Even a healthy person would have much lower odds of survival if they end up getting re-infected with it multiple times a year.

        Lastly, there was a potential early on in the crisis that we could have contained and eliminated the virus like SARS or Ebola. That would’ve required much MORE drastic action, but over a shorter period of time and would’ve saved countless sums of lives and money in the long term. Waffling between the goal of “containment” or just “management” is what has cost us so much.

        1. My understanding is that while there is some uncertainty regarding long-term immunity, it is commonly agreed that anyone who recovers will have (at least) sufficient immunity to be safe from getting re-infected multiple times per year.

          The early containment problem is mostly on China. By the time Covid was first identified in the US (in January), it had already been here for months and was much more widespread than was understood at the time. Even in hindsight it’s pretty tough to argue that the US should have gone into nationwide lockdown based on a nursing home case in January.

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