DC’s Quick Shift Toward Full-Capacity Dining Surprise Restaurant Owner

Tony Tomelden continues to pause, pause, and do something else mid-sentence before starting himself. On Monday afternoon, DC Mayor Muriel Bower announced that the city would Raise all capacity limits to the restaurant On Friday, May 21, with a few bars, nightclubs and live entertainment Venues, which will return to normal operation on June 11. This policy change is a major shift of local government. Hold on tight Cap cap of 25 percent for three months, Caution was also introduced as major cities in the surrounding states and other parts of the country Restrictions on indoor service And allowing A large part of the people inside. At the time of the announcement, Tomleden was the owner of the well-worn H Street Nee Bar The step And co-owner of the neighborhood hole Best of brookland And drinking places in the city Union trustWas not sure how to make meaning of the news.

“I’m a little overwhelmed because I think about it,” he says. “It’s uncomfortable laughter.”

The city’s major announcement only referred to a change in capacity limits, leaving bar and restaurant owners to wonder about other pandemic restrictions. Do they have to keep the table at a distance of six feet? Can they start pouring drinks for customers sitting on bar tops, and serving alcohol beyond the current midnight cutoff? Aides in the mayor’s office later clarified to Etter and other outlets that the moves were to mark a return to pre-pandemic norms for all actions other than a masked requirement. Differentiating between alcohol licenses will also reduce the degree and time of transplanting. Businesses licensed as “restaurants” will reopen fully on May 21, while they “Inn“- a gap that mostly accompanies the dance floor and Dadagiri permits – will be allowed to open at half capacity on that day, before expanding to full capacity after three weeks.

For Tomelden and the other operators who spoke to Eater, the change feels about a face. Bauser has preached caution in the past and waged on July 4 as a goal for a comeback in general. Belongs to DC Initial conflict With To vaccinate There was also uncertainty over the safety of such a move, even if it was three weeks. Trend decreases The rate in the daily case suggests that the city was close to reaching its benchmark for minimum community dissemination. In a single day, that time line was again dramatically extended.

“I’m a little flummoxed that we’re going from zero to 60,” Tomelden says. “I’m not complaining. I’m trying to find out.”

DC Tom Owelden, owner of the DC Bar, left in front of Union Trust with business partner John Solomon.
Tierney Plum / Eater DC

The pug, licensed as an inn, has been closed for a full 14 months after DC’s public health emergency, serving as a pop-up location for Peregrine Espresso to sell coffee during the day. As of Monday afternoon, Tomleden did not know if he would be able to open at 50 percent, which would mean room for 16 to 20 people, or at reduced capacity due to social security protocols.

Possibility of return from flood of questions. Will he run happy hours and bring in a bartender one night, or appoint someone for a full shift in the pug? Would his staff want to keep the leg open seven days a week? Will he close the bar at midnight once he is allowed to do so? “If they say the last call goes back two hours, I’m not sure if my old ass is going to stay any longer,” he says. “I’m going to bed first.” And between courtyard service and takeout, Brookland’s best Sundays were crushed. Can customers order go-to once customers have moved in?

Tomelden described himself as “cautiously optimistic” that the expansion in capacity would work well for restaurants that have to apply for relief, adaptation on the fly and relief programs for more than a year . He just hopes that customers are patient with the workers they are getting in the course of business A national staff shortage. During the epidemic, Tomleden became a part-time Executive Director Of the Chamber of Commerce of Capitol Hill. He says that on the Monday zoom call, a member who owns the retail shop spoke of being “nervous” because the shop’s workers were not fully vaccinated.

The safety of restaurant staff is the primary concern of Genevi Vilmora for the owner’s management in hip Filipino restaurants. Bad saint In Columbia Heights. She has spent epidemics on news reports and data in an effort to develop expertise in infectious diseases. After the city’s announcement, she says she felt “shocked” and “blind” by the city’s decisions.

“What I’ve heard from colleagues and what I’ve heard universally from other industry people is that it’s a completely insane idea,” Villarora says. “Like everyone else, ‘How’s it going to work?” Everyone is saying that it is too early. “

A buggy website, delays in federal data reporting, and proximity to other states where people can get all the fact shots in a vaccine rollout It seems to be doing a worse job than the DC made. Restaurant employees are eligible for the commentary Mid march. The city now has 11 walk-up sites where people can take shots without an appointment. Different Tracker Pulling from Cdc data Show that DC has fully immunized more than 34 percent of its population, which is located in the middle of the pack of American states. New York City Reports 36% of its population is fully vaccinated and willful Moving to full capacity food On 19 May, but with distant measures.

The DC figures do not comfort Villamora at all. Bad saint waited Until june last year Open for takeout only, And it has adopted innovation after innovation to remain open. This includes trying out a breakfast menu, organizing group orders for “neighborhood drops” in the suburbs, starting a newsletter to raise awareness, launching a wine club with virtual classes, and running a holiday market. She says there is “no comparison” between Bad St.’s revenue now and before the epidemic, but she feels good about creating an environment in which her staff feels safe, not insecure or compromised.

“I think this announcement really clarifies that money matters and people don’t,” Willamora says. “I can’t understand it any other way.”

Owners of many bars and restaurants will certainly welcome a return to business, even if they decide not to jump right in. Carmine’s, Italian American series is known for hiding family-style parts at locations across New York, Atlantic City and Vegas. , Is aiming to reopen on June 22 for its 20,000-square-foot DC restaurant near Capital One Arena.

“We are very excited to finally reopen. “It’s been a brutal year for employees, and 25 percent were not open to us,” says CEO Jeff Banks.

The bank does not anticipate that there will be enough staff to return to the venue for a massive 800-seat capacity, so it is looking at the summer retreat as a “soft opening”. After Monday’s announcement, they say nine private dining rooms have been booked off the phone hook, with everything from the Belled Proms to the Anniversary. He is expecting legislative changes in DC, allowing the patent to occupy pavements and cap third-party distribution fees. “We hope the DC government realizes that just because we are 100 percent, our problems are not over,” he says.

Hill Restaurant Group, Joe Hit the headlines Bowser’s move was also endorsed in March 2020, with a small promise on social media to ignore the city’s initial dine-in ban. Tom Johnson says, “She made a good decision and I hope she doesn’t try to pull it back.”

Finding employees would be a “crazy dash”, but Johnson says he is considering throwing make-up St. Patrick’s Day parties and meeting late-night crowds at Stadium Sports, the company said recently. He has also retained a sports bar near the National Park in the Navy. Yard Johnson owns the restaurant in Florida Keys, where he says business has been up 100 to 150 percent since 2019.

“I think people will come out now, now that they won’t be socially embarrassed,” Johnson says. “It is time for people to take responsibility for their own good. If they are not comfortable going outside, do not go outside. “

Terni Plumb contributed to this report.

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