ORANGE COUNTY, California – The state of California will fully reopen its economy on June 15, and restaurant and bar owners are bracing for the reopening and its impact on their businesses.
Wil Dee, owner of Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar in Old Towne Orange, anticipates the reopening.
“June 15 would end up being another change. The only constant is change right now. Being able to have a person fully vaccinated being able to be inside without a mask, I think is a more important thing. not having the limits of distancing and stuff, ”Dee said.
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Haven is a popular destination with a full service restaurant. The restaurant now has an expanded outdoor dining area, after city leaders decided to close the street to provide more al fresco dining options for restaurants.
“Right now I have it all [outdoor dining space]. I will continue to use it to make people feel safe until it is gone and I have to rotate, ”Dee said.
Dee said that when it comes to wearing a mask, it will ultimately depend on what his staff and clients want for a policy.
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“I have had staff members say hello, I will continue to wear my mask. It looks good if this is what you want to do. Most of my staff are fully vaccinated. Everyone should have their mask. opinion but I’m going to take that and then make our decision on what we’ll do in the future, ”Dee said.
Dee also stressed the importance of supporting the restaurant industry after the reopening, as many establishments face staffing issues.
“My kitchen hasn’t grown, my bar hasn’t grown and I certainly don’t have access to as many staff as before. It’s a growing challenge and it just keeps getting worse. “said Dee.
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Mike Flynn, the owner of O SEA, a Newly opened seafood restaurant in the old town of Orange, also anticipates the reopening of the state. The restaurant has been dreaming of reopening Flynn’s for some time and was slated to open in late August 2020, but has been put on hold due to the pandemic.
“The last year has been honestly very difficult in a lot of ways, but it’s a very different experience working in a restaurant just wrapping packaging, you lose the fundamental joy of working in a restaurant that serves as a food and talk to people, ”Flynn said.
Flynn said he focuses the most on providing an exquisite dining experience for customers and retaining staff.
“I am very interested in how operators take care of their team members in the future, based on the past year. If anything, we need to rework our market to match the employee market today ‘hui,’ Flynn said.
Flynn said he has not yet determined the restaurant’s mask-wearing policy, although he said it is likely staff will choose not to wear masks once the state will reopen.
“Here at Orange, for the most part, I have the impression that guests seem fairly comfortable with the service team removing their masks. We haven’t quite made that call but we still have a few days to decide, ”Flynn said.
Paul’s Cocktails, a staple in Old Towne Orange, had to improvise during the pandemic as only establishments that served food were allowed to remain open. The bar ended up serving various foods and using a taco truck to stay open to guests.
“June 15th is a huge thing because it’s obviously been over a year, over a year and everyone can feel a little bit normal again,” said Nissa, bartender at Paul’s Cocktails.
Nissa said they turned part of their parking lot into an outdoor food court during the pandemic, but she expects guests to return to the bar without social distancing requirements.
“It’s nice to be able to have my normal well to serve people rather than opening a can of soda to serve. I can actually do it the right way and then have people here at the bar to chat with and not. not be far from each other. Hope it will go back to how it always has been. Hope everyone is not nervous. People are still shy and scared to go out but we do all we can We clean, we wipe everything, we wear our masks. Fortunately, on June 15, we can be a little more normal but we will take our precautions to wipe everything, “said Nissa.
Pamela Waitt of the Orange County Restaurant Association believes some changes during the pandemic, such as digital menus, will persist after reopening.
“Digital menus, being able to scan, it will take a bit of learning time for new customers to understand it in some cases, but it’s a very efficient way to manage a menu. It cuts to paper and I think it’s definitely here to stay. I think people really enjoyed the extra outdoor dining. It was fun and now there is a fight to keep it. Lots of restaurants, their staff are still wearing the masks but I think in the next couple of weeks we’ll see less and less of that, ”Waitt said.
Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that California will allow restaurants and bars to continue to have take-out cocktails at least until the end of the year. California is also updating its mask mandate to comply with CDC recommendations on June 15, which means fully vaccinated people will not be required to wear a mask in most facilities.
FOX 11 has checked with authorities in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties, and all counties will continue to follow state guidelines, allowing for an expansion of outdoor dining and take-out cocktails afterwards. reopening.