A new pandemic order took effect Monday, lifting restrictions on indoor dining.
However, it requires restaurants to operate at 25 percent capacity and follow a 10 p.m. curfew.
The most recent ban on indoor dining lasted 75 days and it was not easy on restaurant owners.
Don Krzysiak, owner of Krzysiak’s House Restaurant in Bay City, had to let go 75 percent of his employees.
“We’ve been here for 45 years. It’s a big family here. And it’s hard to let everybody go. But when you don’t have everybody working, it’s what we have to do,” Krzysiak said.
With some of his staff rehired, he is hoping to see some more leniency from the state.
“They have to loosen up a little bit on the restaurants and bars to keep us alive. We’ve struggled a long time for the whole year here to make it work,” Krzysiak said.
To make it work, Krzysiak had to make some changes to how they serve their food. One of the changes they made is serving cafeteria style, instead of like a buffet.
A poll by the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association said 60 percent of restaurants will reopen for indoor dining on Feb. 1.
Wheeler’s Restaurant in Standish is in the 40 percent that said it’s just not sustainable.
“In November, we just completely closed. We’re not even offering takeout now because it’s just not viable. A 25 percent capacity limit still doesn’t make it viable,” said Adam Kroczaleski, owner of Wheeler’s Restaurant.
The pandemic has impacted the owner and his employees in a major way. He had to lay off all of his staff. He worries how much longer he can last with no income.
“We’re starting to reach the point where it’s getting worrisome. I can probably last another month or two, and then there’s going to be some tough decisions,” Kroczaleski said.
Kroczaleski is hoping restrictions ease up to 50 percent capacity soon. Until then, he has plans to open on Fat Tuesday to sell paczki.
The current epidemic order lasts until at least Feb. 21.