Local pub, cafe to keep operation changes despite regulation ease next week

Posted on 22 May 2020 at 5:19pm

COLUMBIA— Boone County Public Health announced Friday all businesses can reopen under limitations starting next Tuesday.

Bars and restaurants can operate at 50% seating capacity.

In Boone County, restaurants were allowed to open starting May 4. However, bars were not. To be considered a restaurant bar, 50% of the business’s gross income must come from food sales.

In response to these May 4 opening guidelines, Gunter Hans, a local pub and café, changed its menu to offer more food. Customers also needed to purchase a food item to order drinks.

“When we first reopened, we had to sell food, and it had to be 50% of your sales,” Gunter Hans owner Lydia Melton said. “So for us that was a big jump. We had to introduce new food items and teach the staff how to do it. We also switched to table service, so things we had not done before, we were kind of forced to get out of our comfort zone.

The pub, café also switched from people ordering at the bar to a table service. Guests now wait to be seated at a table that is socially distanced from other groups, and they wait for a server to take their order.

While these changes were made to open at the beginning of May, Melton said she’s been wanting to switch to a serving style. The food options have been popular as well, so the expanded food menu is here to stay.

“Now this gives people a chance to spread out, for us to check on them,” she said. “I think in terms of service it’s going to be a lot better." 

However, a national food supply shortage is making these changes expensive. Certain foods, like meat, are more costly and harder to get a hold of.

On opening weekend, Melton said the restaurant reached its 25% capacity cap. But Gunter Hans is still facing finical worries, and said she will probably have to raise prices soon.

“Now we are reopening, which amplifies expenses,” Melton said. “And then you wonder if people are going to come in. Are they still afraid? Because if they’re afraid to go out, that’s a really, really scary thing. You’ll just bleed out money faster.”

Businesses also have to consider a resurgence.

“I feel very comfortable where we are at, but I don’t feel confident if we have another flare up and people are afraid to go out,” Melton said. “We are gearing up with the expectation that November that this could happen again. And I need to be ready.”

Ready, she said, looks like saving money during this time they are open and operating. She also plans to keep the new set of procedures around, including the menus and serving style.