Editor's note: Jessica Ann is a restaurant owner who's blogging about trying to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic at My Rebound by FOX 17. She founded The Candied Yam, a Grand Rapids restaurant serving Southern cuisine, in 2016. She is married with a daughter who just graduated high school and an adult son. She lives in Kentwood.
Finally, the news that we had been waiting for came with a new executive order on Monday, June 8, 2020.
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Many cumbersome new rules to follow, but happy that restaurants could open for dine in. Being allowed to open for dining at 50% capacity is a bit of a joke, but you get what you get. All the work you have to do to serve only half the amount of dine-in customers. It’s like having a closet for your clothes, but you cannot use all the space – just half of it. Purchasing a house, but you can only sit and enjoy the living room but not the bedroom. It’s what I have to do for now, and it’s worth it mentally, socially and spiritually. To see and engage my regular customers and to be able to converse with them is truly a highlight! I remain grateful and thank God we made it thus far. Counting ourselves as one of the lucky ones that got to even keep our doors open.
I had another fellow restaurant owner tell me last week that they were certain that customers were coming in and that everyone was going to blow the doors off, because they had many customers inquiring about them being open. I told him that I was not as optimistic as he was. Unfortunately, not only did he experience the lack of customers coming in the door, so did I.
We are open Tuesday through Sunday. We counted about 13 customers who actually sat in our restaurant this week, with the bulk of that being on Saturday afternoon. The few customers that I did get the chance to talk to told me that they were happy to be out and about (finally), and they could not wait to actually enjoy their food hot and fresh, as opposed to takeout or from a delivery service. They missed our hospitality and hated paying the "extra" delivery fees.
I will say that I did get the opportunity to see and visit with several of our loyal and frequent customers. It was a joy – like seeing a dear old friend or even a family member! Gosh. It was great. LOVE OUR CUSTOMERS!!
It was not only nice see all the customers, but awesome to catch up with everyone. Many were in need of haircuts or new "girlfriends" (ummm, that’s a wig for some of y’all who don’t know – because the hair stores that supplied them were closed). Sadly, some of them had COVID. All recovered! Some are back to work. Some are not. Many just want to get back to life as it was pre-COVID. We all surmise that won’t happen for a while, if at all.
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About two-thirds of our customers did not wear a mask this week. Some stated that they are “over wearing them” and stated, “How do I enjoy my food and wear a mask?” I laughed with them, because I totally understand what they are speaking about.