Berkeley restaurants are reluctant to return to indoor dining
Berkeley restaurants will be allowed to offer indoor dining starting October 26, but safety concerns over COVID-19 are still widespread.
Under the new regulations, the City of Berkeley is allowing the gradual reopening of additional activities, including indoor dining, worship services and cinemas. They will be able to operate with 100 people or at 25% of their capacity indoors, whichever is lower. Despite these new plans, some restaurants are choosing not to immediately reopen indoor restaurants due to safety concerns for employees and customers.
Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen, which brings New Orleans cuisine to the Berkeley community, has yet to make a decision but still has reservations about the safety of meals inside, according to Corey Mike, deputy director of the restaurant.
“While we are certainly interested in the prospect of having more business and more capacity to serve people with a 25% capacity to eat, our reservations all revolve around having waiters waiting at tables and on people who are not masked, âsaid Mike.
Angeline used to seat up to 100 people indoors and has relied on take-out and patio seating ever since to preserve a community setting, according to Mike. Its field service provides seating for 32 customers, and about 75% of business is done through take-out orders.
The Cheese Board Collective’s pizzeria has also changed its dining arrangements, according to Donna Collins, a worker and co-owner. It operates on a first come, first served basis, offering around 60-70% of its normal menu items.
Cheeseboard Pizza has no plans to return to indoor catering as it is happy with the level of business it is currently generating, despite the loss of indoor catering, Collins said. Around September, the restaurant reached 75% of its normal total revenue.
Collins added that Cheeseboard Pizza has no plans to reopen until it is completely sure.
“A widely distributed and available vaccine would probably be a big trigger for us to consider going the route of indoor dining, and of course, we want to comply with county and state laws and recommendations.” for public safety, âCollins said.
According to Matthew Jervis, director of vitality for the Downtown Berkeley Association, reopening indoor restaurants would be helpful but not a safe solution to the current state of restaurants. Jervis added that he has seen some restaurants lay off entire employees.
In hot weather, consumers may choose to stay outside, but as it gets colder, people may prefer to dine indoors, which could increase COVID-19 rates, Jervis added.
âJust because they are going to allow meals inside that doesn’t mean people would be ready for it, so it’s by no means certain that incomes would increase,â Jervis said. âThere is still a long way to go. There is a lot of loss of income.