After COVID-19 forced people into isolation in early March, Kelowna’s downtown core became a ghost town, free from all nightlife and enjoyment — until now.
On Tuesday, May 20, Kelowna had its first look at the re-opening of sit-down dining, which is part of the second phase of B.C.’s restart plan.
Doc Willoughby’s Downtown Pub, also known as Docs, was one of the establishments to open its doors to customers on Tuesday. Dave Willoughby, manager of Docs, said the re-opening was a positive experience, having done an extensive amount of renovations and prep for the day over the last few months.
“It was a steady turn over of customers,” said Willoughby.
“Everybody was quite excited to be in and everyone was quite respectful while waiting in line because of our reduced 50 per cent capacity. It was a really busy day overall.”
Like all restaurants abiding by the province’s protocols, Docs is operating at 50 per cent capacity to ensure social distancing, while also taking the extra steps to ensure proper sanitation.
”There’s a lot of extra steps that servers have to take to clean tables,” said Willoughby.
“We aren’t allowing people in until the table was cleared and then the server would go to the doorpost and tell them there’s a table of four, supposed to allowing people in at will. Those are extra precautions that take time and add to staffing expense for sure.”
Willoughby said customers were noticeably happy to be back, having a steady stream of people coming in to dine. Today, Docs’ patio also opened, and looking ahead, the owner also plans to host individual singer-songwriters for live entertainment on the weekends without a dance floor in an effort to maintain distancing.
Kelly O’Bryan’s Neighborhood Restaurant was another establishment to offer sit-down dining on Tuesday. According to manager Jeff Blower, the restaurant had a line up of people waiting to get in right up until midnight.
“Staff are so happy to be back and the customers are just appreciative,” said Blower.
“It takes a lot longer to get the food and drinks out and stuff like that, but the customers are patient and happy to be back in the sunshine on our patio.”
Kelly O’s is also taking appropriate measures to ensure social distancing, keeping two metres between each table. The establishment is also disinfecting each table for five minutes at a time and only one worker is allowed in the kitchen at a time.
While staff and customers are happy to sit down, grab a beer and eat a meal, some resturants are looking to ensure they have enough employees to maintain their business.
Kelly O’Bryan’s is looking to hire servers and is encouraging anyone interested to bring in a resume.