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Restaurateur uses soft opening in Leawood as blueprint for KCMO

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Posted at 10:29 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 23:27:05-04

LEAWOOD, Kan. — Rye in Mission Farms held its first dinner service in nearly two months on Monday. The owners hope to use the lessons learned during the soft opening across the state line when they reopen the doors at their Country Club Plaza location on Friday.

"Every restaurateur is basically building an entirely new restaurant out of the one they already had," Megan Garrelts, chef and co-owner of Rye Leawood, Rye Plaza and Bluestem, told 41 Action News.

Some of the changes at Rye will be apparent the moment customers walk in, from masks employees are required to wear and gloves for those serving customers. Other changes are subtle.

"Our restaurant is our home," Garrelts said. "We want it to feel as normal as possible."

The table configuration in the dining room was left intact, and, instead, there are laminated signs that let patrons know which tables are open.

"We figured if we took tables and chairs out, we would have a hard time renegotiating the dining room, if you will, to accommodate what we can with proper distancing," Garrelts said.

During the pandemic, the restaurant will have two staff members dedicated to sanitizing frequent touch points.

While guests in Leawood can sit at the bar, folks won't be able to do the same at Rye on the Plaza under current guidelines unveiled Monday by Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas.

"It’s going to be tricky to navigate, you know," Garrelts said. "There's going to be guests that want to come in and just go back to life, and we're going to have to have probably not some fun conversations just to get people to work with us because this is all new for all of us."

She believes the amount of business restaurants will generate when they reopen will depend on location.

"We live in Leawood, and I feel like people are ready, all our neighbors are like champing at the bit to be out again," Garrelts said. "I think Kansas City, because it's a little bit more populated, more densely populated, that people are going to be a little bit more sluggish to get out. So businesses needs your support. We need your community, you know, love a lot right now. We've all been going through hard times. Just trying to navigate our business and our livelihoods."

Garrelts plans to open a third restaurant, Bluestem, on May 19.