Restaurants are opening, but are they ready?


As we reach the end of May, numerous businesses around Dubuque are beginning to let people back in. They’re starting by reopening to half-capacity in anticipation of customers returning once again. However, as the world attempts to return to normalcy, will it actually succeed? Are the restaurants ready to allow people back in?

Charlotte’s Coffee House (Courtesy of Charlotte’s)

Tim Rusk, a manager at Charlotte’s Coffee House says he’s excited for the reopening, “I have a feeling that people are ready to get back to life.” Charlotte’s had been closed since April 1st, only doing curbside and pick-up orders. That changed however when they reopened to half-capacity this last weekend. Rusk was confident that business would pick up again saying, “I think people want to have a little slice of what it used to be like.”

Rusk took on a positive outlook when reflecting on the past month and a half taking it as an opportunity.

“If you’re in the mindset that things are going to be back to normal and I’ll just wait this out, I think that those are the people that are going to have a hard time.”

Charlotte’s is no stranger to large change. Back in 2018, the place caught fire, requiring a year-long reconstruction. Despite the setback, they adapted to the situation, “Instead of closing up shop or waiting for something to come falling out of the sky, we got food trailers to stay relevant.”

When asked if the reopening was too early, Rusk said he was not in favor of it going on any longer, “As it stands right now, I’m 100% ready for it to be back open.” He continued saying he anticipates people will be a little shy at the beginning, “Months of people panicking isn’t going to go away with the flip of a switch, but I’m sure it’s going to go eventually go back to what it was.”

The question then came up whether he believed that a second spike could occur during the reopening. Rusk said, “Definitely, but we can’t be afraid of that.” But is this sentiment universal?

Guy Parkin (Photo Courtesy of Mining Co.)

The Mining Company is another small business that’s been doing curbside pickup for the past month and a half. They plan to reopen its doors to just under half-capacity by the end of the month. I sat down with the owner, Guy Parkin, to get his perspective of the COVID situation.

When asked if this was good timing to reopen, Parkin said, “I think it’s actually too soon, but I’m kind of obligated to open back up again. I just don’t see the cases going down to the point where I feel comfortable.” Despite this, they still plan to reopen. When asked why, he explains that they will stop liquor sales on the 27th, so as a way to find alternative revenue, they’ll reopen. “It’s a scary situation to get into.”

Despite these reservations, Parkin says, “I’m cautious, but really look forward to seeing the regular customers return.” He discusses the complications for them as a small business saying.

“I don’t have corporate to tell me what I should be doing and what I can’t be doing. It’s a learn as you go type situation.”

As more businesses reopen, it’s yet to be seen what kind of impact this will have on COVID-19 cases.

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