Restaurants across Frederick County opened their doors on Friday night for the first time in almost three months. The dining experience was not like when they had closed, however.
In accordance with Gov. Larry Hogan’s phase two of reopening Maryland, restaurants must operate at 50 percent capacity or less. Tables have to be placed at least six feet apart from one another and all employees are required to wear masks.
County Executive Jan Gardner announced she would be following Gov. Hogan’s order on Thursday evening, giving restaurants about a day to prepare if they wanted to reopen for indoor dining.
But many had been looking forward to this and preparing for quite some time. Kim Firestone, owner of Firestone’s on North Market Street, said he was excited to open up the community once again.
Firestone’s was also one of the restaurants able to utilize Market Street’s new weekend closures. Beginning this week, Market Street between Market Square and W. Patrick Street will be closed to traffic to allow for more outdoor eating for restaurants.
“It’s going very well, I’m very happy,” Firestone said. “Of course the weather was great which is a big factor but you know we set up and got a good response.”
Also on the closed portion of the street is The Tasting Room. Owner Jarrett Walsh said the restaurant had been busy all of Friday, between outdoor dining and preparing to open for indoor dinner.
Other restaurants, however, decided to wait to begin indoor dining. Kolby Cregger, general manager of Taco Daddy, said the restaurant is holding off because they want to keep their customers and staff as safe as possible.
“What I fear is after we do indoor dining at 50 percent there’ll be another spike,” Cregger said. “And I just don’t want to risk our guests’ or my staff’s safety with the possibility of another spike of this coronavirus.”
Cregger said the staff has been utilizing enhanced sanitation of every outdoor table and chair, and all wear gloves and masks at all times.
Cacique Restaurant and Tsunami Ramen and Tapas utilized the stretch of Market Street between Church and Patrick Streets. Neither restaurant were open for indoor dining.
Sandra Martin, of Clarksburg, ate at Taco Daddy with her family on Friday evening, glad to be eating out again.
“We’ve been cooped up way too long,” Martin said. However, she said she would hold off on eating indoors anywhere until she felt more safe.
Kyle and Marie Fredrikis, who were eating at Firestone’s outside on Market Street, felt similarly. They were happy to trade outdoor dining for their usual take-out. But they’ll hold off on indoor dining for a while, they said.
Despite many people being wary, all of Firestone’s indoor tables were reserved on Friday.
“Everybody’s thrilled to be back in business and so far I get the impression that people are glad to see us back in business,” Kim Firestone said. “So it works well for everybody.”