Trenton restaurants adapt to indoor dining restrictions

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Indoor dining has returned to Michigan, but there is still work to be done in order to return to “normal”

Restaurant owners in Trenton modified their rules and regulations to align with state and federal guidelines, but some said the hurdles are worth it.

Nick Piunti, owner of Sibley Gardens on 916 W. Jefferson Ave., said that they can’t accommodate all of the “pent up demand” there has been since the shutdown. He said Sibley Gardens is not even advertising at the moment because they are not able to promise anyone a reservation.

Sibley Gardens is on 916 W. Jefferson Ave, Trenton, MI.

Local restaurants in Trenton and throughout the state have adapted to new protocols and limited capacity for their customers since indoor dining returned. Feb. 1, 2021, as announced  Jan. 22 by Gov. Whitmer who laid out what was permitted and what was not.

Restaurants are only allowed to serve at 25% capacity inside, and they must follow other precautions and protocols to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

General manager of Round House BBQ Brad Alderman said he has noticed the regulars starting to come back in to dine since they have reopened indoors.

“People have been wanting to get out,” he said. Alderman also said that the dining area being open again has allowed him to bring back more workers.

Round House BBQ is pictured on the map. Located in downtown Trenton, the address is 2760 W. Jefferson Ave, Trenton, MI.

“Everyone seems to be ecstatic,” said Joe Bozynski who owns Joe’s Prime Time Pub in Trenton and said that they have had a successful reopening as well.

Joe’s Prime Time Pub is on 27845 Fort St, near the border of Gibraltar on Fort Street

Working around COVID

According to the press release, “Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity with up to 100 people. Tables must be six feet apart with no more than six people per table. Outdoor tents with four sides are permitted under these same rules. Bars and restaurants must close by 10 p.m. Additionally, contact information must be collected from diners for contact tracing purposes.”

MDHHS director Robert Gordon said, “Today’s announcement is possible because of our progress over the last two months.” However, he also added that the science says that unmasked indoor activities can still put people at risk for COVID-19.

Alderman said that Round House has built dividers around all their tables that are not plexiglass, but actual walls. He says this meets the requirements for social distancing and gives customers a “fine-dining feel.”

Sibley Gardens had to remove tables from inside to be able to meet the requirements from the state and enable enough room for social distancing. “25% capacity is not a good business model,” Piunti said. He also said that he hopes they are able to up that percentage in the near future if the number of COVID cases in Michigan continues to drop. 

Being prepared for an event where indoor dining does get shut down again in the future was on the mind of Bozynski.

He said concentrating on the outdoor seating and dining facilities could be helpful in the future if they need to move back to a scenario where that is the only way restaurants can serve guests.

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