WYOMING, Mich. — Restaurant owners are hopeful to resume their dine-in services following Governor Whitmer's announcement last week that some restrictions will likely be lifted starting February 1.
"The pause the DHHS issued is working," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. "If numbers continue to head in the right direction, our hope is that we will be able to resume indoor dining with strong safety measures in place February 1."
In a press conference, Gov. Whitmer and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said because of the restrictions put in place, Michigan saw a less severe peak in cases among other Great Lakes region states.
"Our restaurant owners have made considerable sacrifices over the past 10 months to keep communities safe and to save lives," said Whitmer, "and there's no question is has been hard, for the owners and for their employees. I know it has not been easy."
One of the many restaurants impacted by the pandemic is Tamales Mary in Wyoming.
"It's hard for us," said Maria Martinez, Tamales Mary owner.
Tamales Mary is well known for its fresh handmade tamales and Mexican buffet. Despite their popularity, Martinez says her restaurant's sales have been down by more than 30 percent throughout the pandemic, which she credits a large portion to dine-in restrictions.
"The business is kind of slow, you know? It is. People still come in, but we need more people," said Martinez.
In addition to sales struggles, Martinez had plans to expand her restaurant by adding a new location in Grand Rapids Eastown. That expansion project was stalled due to the pandemic and increasing COVID-19 numbers.
However, with the Governor's hopeful news, Martinez believes she will be able to keep her Grand Rapids Eastown opening in March.
"I think we are ready. I hope so," said Martinez.
The small business owner says the news comes just in time for Tamales Mary's four-year anniversary.
Martinez says while she's excited to celebrate a tough year, she never expected to celebrate with an empty restaurant and take-out orders.
"Outside is too cold. I can't have people outside, so I'm waiting for inside to open," said Martinez. "Honestly, it doesn't matter if it's only 50 percent. We have to, we have to open."
Tamales Mary is celebrating its anniversary with a Tamales special at their Wyoming location on January 22.
Address: 253 Burton St Sw, Wyoming, MI, MI 49509
Phone number: (616) 288-5007