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West Michigan restaurants navigate new state recommendations

Posted at 10:46 PM, Apr 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-10 23:05:31-04

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — It’s been a year full of changes for bars and restaurants.

“We’ve continually evolved and had to change on the fly virtually, immediately,” said Dave Ringler, Cedar Springs Brewing Company owner.

Ringler says the decision-making process won’t stop anytime soon; the brewery most recently chose to stay open.

On Friday, Governor Whitmer asked people to forgo eating inside for two weeks as a way to help mitigate the state’s rising spread of COVID-19, leaving restaurants and bars with the option of continuing to offer dine-in services or switch to outdoor eating and carry-out only.

SEE MORE: Whitmer calls for voluntary measures to slow spread of COVID-19

“We’re confident that we’ve been able to operate safely but still be here as a resource for our community,” said Ringler. “We have touchless menus that are on all of the tables, and people can come in and pull it right up on their phone. Our daily specials are listed daily on Facebook, and then we usually have a single member of the party; they can come up, they can place their order… We’re trying to create as little of contact that we can.”

Ringler added to his knowledge there’s been no cases directly linked to their brewery since first reopening last summer, which further contributed to their decision.

“There’s a lot of really good [restaurant] operators, most are good operators, that are gonna do the right thing,” said Ringler. “They’re going to do everything in their power to keep people healthy.”

All In Hospitality, which runs four restaurants in Grand Rapids, including The Winchester and Donkey Taqueria, is closing its indoor service beginning Monday, April 12.

“Pretty easy decision for us,” said All In Hospitality Director of Operations Chris Funaro. “We’ve been doing everything that we can since this thing started back in March to dedicate as much focus to keeping our staff and our guests safe. Obviously we’re super concerned with this most recent surge.”

RELATED: Restaurant industry struggles to get workers to come back

Funaro says while they also consider their safety protocols top-notch, eating outside proved to be popular among their customers this past winter and early spring.

“We had people sitting on our patio in 30 degrees, drinking margaritas, and enjoying some authentic Mexican street food,” said Funaro.

It gave the group additional confidence they could make it through another closure.

“The bigger concern that we have is for the people of West Michigan and our staff,” said Funaro. “We know we’re not out of the woods yet, and obviously by closing our dining rooms that’s going to have a negative financial impact on us, but we’re confident this is the right decision for us, and we can’t--we will not sit around and not do anything.”

Open for indoor service or not, both businesses hope people keep at least one thing the same as they navigate yet another changer.

“There is frustration, no doubt; it’s been over a year," said Ringler. "We don’t like operating less than what we intend, and obviously it’s difficult for the consumers, so we just continue to ask for their patience and understanding.”

READ MORE: Grand Rapids man creates database on Reddit to support local restaurants

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