DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Starting next Friday, restaurants across the state will be able to reopen at 75% capacity.
It’s the latest phase of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to reopen Texas.
But some restaurant owners said it will be nearly impossible to adhere to social distancing guidelines while expanding their seating.
Coolgreens in Dallas is serving salads with a side of social distancing.
Since the room’s maximum occupancy is 48, Coolgreens can now seat up to 24 customers.
Currently, restaurants may operate at 50% capacity.
But Todd Madlener, the president of Coolgreens, said that’s as much as the staff can safely handle “for the forseeable future.”
As part of the state’s minimum health protocols, “tables should generally be at least 6 feet apart from any part of another table,” according to a checklist provided by the state.
“Even at 100%, if we can’t social distance, we can’t open fully,” Madlener said. “Restaurants were never designed for social distancing. Restaurants maximize square footage for the most seating. That’s what we’ve always done, and now we can’t do that.”
To increase revenue, Madlener said Coolgreens will continue to lean on takeout orders. He said he is also considering installing a drive-thru at another Coolgreens location in DFW.
“We realize we have to be able to pivot because the world has changed and it’s probably changed forever,” Madlener said.
The easing of restrictions poses a unique set of challenges for smaller establishments. But even restaurants with larger dining rooms will need to adjust.
With a maximum occupancy of 828, Haywire in Plano has the luxury of space.
Managing partner John Richardson said by staggering tables throughout three floors, Haywire is able to maintain a comfortable distance between each party.
“It is a struggle for other restaurants that are much smaller in size,” said Richardson, adding that accommodating customers has not yet posed an issue despite the restrictions.
But if tasked with seating 75% of the restaurant’s full occupancy — 621 customers — Richardson said Haywire would be unable to maintain social distancing.
“Here at Haywire we won’t be able to accommodate that,” Richardson said. “We will maintain what we’re doing currently, our best practices, to make sure we’re providing a safe environment for everyone. We’re not going to push the limits.”
As of last Wednesday, the day Abbott initiated Phase 3, restaurants could begin seating 10 people at a table.