After takeout had been the only option for two months, dining-in is now allowed in San Benito County.
“We’ve had calls all day long,” said Chuck Frowein, owner of Hollister restaurant Grillin and Chillin Alehouse. “It’s more people, ‘are you really open?’”
Sales have plummeted 90% since the pandemic started, 30 workers were furloughed but now they’ve all been hired back. The staff is hopeful seeing locals return.
“Even though they’re 10-12 feet apart, they’re talking to each other,” said Frowein. “It’s amazing just to see the mental side of it, and people getting back to normal.”
A few of the things the restaurants have to do is have tables spaced out. At Grillin and Chillin Alehouse, they’re more than six feet apart and customers have to wear a mask until they sit down.
They also have markers on the ground reminding people to social distance. Employees have to be trained on that as well as wear masks, and gloves if they’re handling food.
“It’s nice. it’s really nice to sit down,” said customer Phil Hernandez. “You feel like you’re out of a cage.”
The governor gave San Benito County the special approval Wednesday to expand its stage two earlier than most.
As of Wednesday, there are only four active COVID-19 cases in the county of 62,000 -- a key ratio in reopening the economy.
“We support our businesses. We support the people who work here, we want to get them back to work. That’s the most important thing for us,” said San Benito County PIO David Westrick, who is expecting Bay Area visitors looking to get a taste of normalcy.
“I think it’s a good problem to have, and I think that we’re prepared to deal with that impact as well,” he said.