'We don't have the staff': Local restaurant won't reopen at full capacity despite state lifting restrictions

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Posted at 4:14 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 16:34:33-04

CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. — Restaurants are gearing up to reopen at full capacity after the state announced plans to lift all COVID-19 capacity restrictions on June 22, but the news is bittersweet for some.

A restaurant owner in Cedar Springs that FOX 17 spoke with says he’s happy with the decision to allow full capacity again, but they will still be closed on Monday.

Red Bird Bistro is celebrating its two-year anniversary of being open in a few weeks, and almost 18 months of those two years were spent in a pandemic.

READ MORE: Michigan to lift all COVID-19 restrictions June 22

“Really, really tough,” said Scott Arp, co-owner of Red Bird Bistro. “I’m going to be optimistic, and be grateful for what we have when we get it.”

But they pushed through.

In January, Co-Owner Jody Arp told us 25 percent capacity restrictions made making a buck impossible. They didn’t have enough business to hire back the full staff.

“I have only 10 of about 35 staffers working right now,” said Jody.

Now, they face the opposite problem.

“The hardest part right now is finding workers right now,” explained Jody.

RELATED: Local organizations react to state's reopening news

Opening up at full capacity would be nice if Scott and Jody had the staff to do it.

“We’re not going to bring all of our tables down. We don’t have the staff to handle a full dining room,” said Scott.

The restaurant will be closed on Mondays until further notice.

Scott says Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement is good news.

READ MORE: Some COVID-19 orders will remain in effect in Michigan despite plan to lift all restrictions June 22

“We have a banquet hall upstairs; it would be nice to start using that a little bit,” he explained.

It just makes no difference for his business right now.

“Most of the time, I’m too busy to think about it,” Scott told FOX 17.

FOX 17 spoke with multiple restaurant owners who told us just because they can open at full capacity doesn’t mean they will.

LOOK BACK: TIMELINE: A look back at COVID-19 in Michigan from the past 16 months

Like Red Bird Bistro, many don’t have the staff to operate at full capacity yet. They’re asking everyone to be patient and kind while navigating this newest change.

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