KC restaurants on standby for reopening guidelines

Posted at 5:35 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 20:18:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Restaurants within Kansas City, Missouri, limits are on standby waiting to learn what rules they'll need to follow when they reopen.

Mayor Quinton Lucas is expected to announce new restaurant-specific guidelines on Friday.

Some restaurant owners, like Chef J BBQ owner Justin Easterwood, are hoping Lucas will allow for more occupancy. The city's current 10/10/10 rule only allows for 10% of a business's occupancy or 10 people, whichever is greater.

Easterwood said under that rule, he would only be able to have six or seven customers dine-in at a time, which he said makes it difficult to operate.

"I'm hoping that they lighten up on the 10% rule for small businesses," Easterwood said. "If they could give us 25%, we could at least do 25 people."

Easterwood is looking forward to the clarification. He said it has been a bit confusing to figure out what rules to follow since Jackson County announced its own set of Phase 1 guidelines Wednesday, which include a 25% capacity guideline for businesses less than 10,000 square feet.

"I've talked to some other business owners in the salon industry and restaurant world, and it seems like they hear different things," Easterwood said.

Whatever rules he'll end up following, Easterwood said he can't wait to see people inside again.

"It's going to feel fantastic," Easterwood said. "This is where my love and my passion is, seeing the smiling faces, people coming in here excited to try the barbecue."

Other restaurant owners want clarification too.

Ragazza Food and Wine owner Laura Norris is worried about earning enough money to keep the lights.

"We have to worry about staffing, we have to worry about food, we have to worry about safety." Norris said. "Our sales are down 62%, which is difficult."

Norris said 10% of her restaurant's occupancy won't work because budgets are based on square footage.

"Our occupancy is super important to us and so limitations are damaging, but also we don't want to put people at risk so we'll follow the rules of course," Norris said.

Norris said she is also worried about getting all of her employees back to work.

"With the distancing and not being able to get as many people in our restaurant, I think it's going to be harder to get our employees to come off of unemployment," Norris said.

As both restaurant owners wait to see what guidelines they'll have to work with, they hope the community will show up when their lights come back on.

"We want you to come back and get this city back in operation," Easterwood said.