Restaurants take next step towards business as usual

Brandy Crow, a 9-year employee, prepares Bevricks first food bar in over two months.

After three months of no dine-in and minimal dine-in due to COVID-19 regulations, local restaurants are now opening back up to business as usual -- almost. 

There are still social distancing measures in place, but now, Governor Brian Kemp has removed restrictions regarding the number in each party and buffets/food bars. The Governor’s Executive Order - Empowering a Healthy Georgia - put new restaurant regulations in place effective on Monday of this week. 

According to the Governor’s website: “In restaurants and dining rooms, there is no longer a party maximum for the number of people who can sit together. There is no longer a limit on the number of patrons allowed per square foot. Workers at restaurants, dining rooms, banquet facilities, private event facilities, and private reception venues are only required to wear face coverings when they are interacting with patrons. In a bar, now you can have 50 people – up from 25 – or 35 percent of total listed fire capacity, whichever is greater. 

“For salad bars and buffets, a worker can use cafeteria-style service to serve patrons or the establishment can provide hand sanitizer, install a sneeze guard, enforce social distancing, and regularly replace shared utensils to allow patron self-service.” 

What does this mean for Metter’s eateries? On Monday, Bevricks Char House Grille was closed in preparation for the re-opening of the food bar on Tuesday. Rick Patrick, owner, said that patrons choosing to dine from the buffet will be required to hand-sanitize before they start preparing their plates. The restaurant will still be closed daily from 2-4 p.m. for the foreseeable future, he added.

JoMax will also be serving larger parties while maintaining the 6’ distancing requirement and wearing masks as appropriate, added Patrick, who also owns the barbecue restaurant.

At Papa Buck’s, full dining room service also resumed on Tuesday, with wait staff still wearing masks and following guidelines. “The drive-thru is not complete yet,” said Jason Smith, general manager, “but we are hoping it will be running next week.”

Taqueria el Sol has also opened back up for in-house dining, with tables spread out to accommodate social distancing. Now, however, orders are being taken at the table instead of the counter, unless it is a to-go order, said Rosa Salinas, manager. “The salsa bar is still closed, but there are pre-packaged containers with the salsas of your choice available,” she said.

El Mariachi is limiting seating to 10 per table and maintains one entrance with a separate exit, according to manager Hunter Csoppu. The wait staff continues to wear masks and gloves, he added.

Dine-in options are still limited at End Zone, according to manager Jackie Tucker, in order to maintain social distancing guidelines. “We encourage customers to use the outside area to eat,” she said. However, “not much has changed since the majority of our orders are carry-out ...”

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