By Greg Ellison
No easy task for some, as money might not work out, or employees tough to find
(June 18, 2020) As Maryland continues to ease covid-19 health restrictions, numerous Ocean Pines eateries are again providing indoor dining at half-capacity for the present time.
Matt Ortt Companies cofounder Ralph DeAngelus said food operations at the Yacht Club, Beach Club and Golf Clubhouse are now welcoming patrons back inside.
“Even if it’s only half normalcy, we’ll take it,” he said. “It’s like the universe is starting to come back together.”
DeAngelus said business was steady at the Beach Club on Friday and Saturday, with subpar weather slowing the pace on Sunday.
“All units are open now at 50 percent capacity,” he said. “Staff is welcoming customers back with masked faces and open arms.”
Tanya Knott, owner of Whiskers Bar and Grille on Cathell Road, remains uncertain about opening inside service on Friday because of staffing issues.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to open up because we don’t have the help,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s worth it to open at 50 percent.”
In addition to being short-handed for servers and cooks, monitoring crowds in terms of health safety precautions also appears challenging.
“The rules … I don’t know how I’m going to enforce, “ she said. “I would have to police it, especially with the bar.”
Knott said with normal indoor capacity of roughly 130 patrons, and two-dozen barstools, the half-size option appears troubling in terms of profitability.
“We’re trying to figure it out, but we’re not sure how it’s going to work,” she said. “I need to be able to go 100 percent.”
By contrast, Kelli Beck, owner of DeNovo’s Trattoria on Manklin Creek Road, is moving full steam ahead with half-capacity.
“We’re doing 50 percent inside,” she said. “We followed all the rules with six-feet distancing, mask wearing and the sanitizing.”
Beck said staffing problems initially appeared but have since been remedied
“We were initially having a difficult time getting people back, but we have a really good core staff that have been with us for years and they’ve really stepped up,” she said.
Since March when the pandemic started curtailing social activities, DeNovo’s has seen its carryout service, now adjusted to curb side, significantly spike.
“It seems like the local community has been very supportive of us,” she said.
Denovo’s is also using its outside patio to serve customers.
“We’ve been able to create a nice balance so staff has an opportunity to get their employment back and keep everything going,” she said. “These are difficult [and] scary times.”
Besides economic gain, restaurant operators are also focused on staff safety, with DeAngelus noting special precautions have been enacted at OPA eateries.
“It’s super important to make sure your staff is safe too,” he said. “Sometimes the staff gets overheated outside in the masks, so we had to establish a safe zone in the back area they could go to catch their breath.”
“We’re trying to do what’s best for everyone and, of course, keep the business going so everyone has an income,” she said. “In the restaurant business, you often forget that people are human too.”