Bill Smith’s Cafe in McKinney is one restaurant taking advantage of this allowance, with its doors set to open at 5:30 a.m.
The restaurant spent April 30 readying the waitstaff and the dining area for customers’ returns, said April Loken, a Bill Smith’s employee. This included sanitizing tables and spacing them out to help maintain social distancing as well as making hand sanitizer more widely available in the cafe, she said.
Per state regulations, all tables must be spaced 6 feet apart and can include no more than six people at a time.
Accepting credit card payments to prevent extra handling of cash is another change that customers will see at the restaurant, Loken said.
If the restaurant reaches capacity, a hostess will be outside taking names and encouraging people to wait in their vehicles until their tables are available.
“Everything is ready to go. We're just waiting for the morning,” she said. “We’re excited to get going.”
The 25% occupancy rule is helpful for Bill Smith’s since it has such a large seating area, Loken said.
“We can still do 25% and have a good amount of people in here,” she said. “I know most restaurants can only seat, say, 50-100 people. We seat right around between 250-300.”
Not having enough seats is one reason keeping other restaurants, such as Blue Olive Grill in McKinney, from reopening.
The restaurant gets a good number of diners that come through on the weekend, owner Waleed Farah said. Only seating a fraction of them would be a “disservice,” he said.
“We only have seven tables altogether, so 25% of that is only two tables,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to open.”
Blue Olive Grill has a smaller dining room, so spacing tables out to accommodate social distancing would also be a difficulty for the restaurant, Farah said. Responses to curbside pickup and to-go orders have been good, he said, so the restaurant will continue to offer those options.
“We’re going to wait for now and see what happens,” Farah said.