Lunchtime along Main Street quiet as Greenville restaurants begin reopening indoor dining
Lunchtime on Main Street was quiet enough to hear birds chirping Monday as some Greenville restaurants began serving customers indoors again.
Groups of pedestrians moved along the sidewalk. Others walked down the middle of Main Street in areas closed to traffic. Many restaurants were serving customers in outdoor dining spaces, but just a few appeared to have groups of customers seated inside.
The state's latest move to reopen South Carolina's economy allows restaurants to resume indoor dining, given they limit the number of customers and clean surfaces regularly to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Jaime and Susan Cruz, of Greenville, said they were out for a walk downtown and maybe lunch outside. Susan Cruz said she felt it was ok for restaurants to reopen as long as they follow the preventative guidelines, but "I'm not ready to go inside yet," she said.
Up the street at Sticky Fingers Ribhouse, four young women laughed and chatted in an otherwise vacant dining area. They were downtown to celebrate and do some shopping.
"The weather's great, we're celebrating a birthday, and we love downtown Greenville," Lindsey Rector said.
General manager Ernest Jones stood behind the counter where several bottles of hand sanitizer were within reach. He said business had been slow to pick back up on Main Street, even coming off of Mother's Day weekend.
"All the banks are still closed, the hotels aren't doing much, the only thing really open are the restaurants," he said.
He was hopeful nice weather could be enough this week to draw customers to eat out again. If not, Jones said, they may consider closing the dining room again until all restrictions are lifted on restaurants.
"Right now, we're not making enough to keep the doors open," Jones said.
For Carl Sobocinski, founder of the Table 301 dining group, reopening outdoor dining over the weekend was successful, but he expects to see less people coming to restaurants during the week even with indoor dining open.
"We rely on businesses and guests in hotels," Sobocinski said. "It's going to be a long time before the business travel and the leisure travel come back."
Table 301 restaurants waited nearly a week to return to outdoor dining, taking time to train staff and get personal protective equipment. Now, everyone has their temperature checked before working and staff who work in dining areas wear protective masks and spend more time doing things like sanitizing tables.
"For decades, the public has trusted us and they let us prepare food that they ingest and they go home and feel great," Sobocinski said. "Our industry has already been safe, now there are just more things in the front of the house to adjust."
Haley Walters covers public safety, crime and breaking news. Email her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @_haleywalters