Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Arkansas restaurants are able to open Monday for limited dining


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Even though restaurants are allowed to host customers, many are choosing not to because of the restrictions that come along with it.

Others, like Potbelly in Little Rock, are jumping at the chance.

“We’ve done quite a bit to make sure it’s a safe environment,” says Kevin Barnes, Potbelly Operations Manager.

Following Governor Asa Hutchinson’s guidelines, certain tables are closed.

Ten feet of space between each, enough for six feet between people sitting down to eat.

“Now about every 15 minutes, we’re going to sanitize towels and wipe down,” Barnes explains. “Literally the front door inside, we work our way in. Try to keep people spaced out from that point.”

Tape marks off where people should stand at least six feet apart.

There are hand sanitizers.

“We’re not where we were,” says Ryan Hamra, Owner of Potbelly. “We’re far from where we were. But we’ve adjusted.”

Hamra owns both local Potbelly locations on Capitol and University Avenues.

“We can’t go through this again,” Hamra says. “We as a local business, as a restaurant. I for one, if this happens again, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

He, like all local business owners, adjusted.

They’ve offered take out, the same subs, salads and sandwiches you’re used to.

Customers have taken it in stride.

“Other parts of the country where customers are up in arms about things, they have to do,” says Barnes. “I think we can toot our horn here in Arkansas, this hasn’t really happened here.”

Monday, restaurants are allowed to reopen dining rooms in a limited capacity, no more than 33 percent of their normal occupancy.

If you want to sit down, and they hope you do, make sure you wear a mask. It’s required.

Small adjustments now may keep businesses open.

“It’s so important that business owners and customers, you have to follow guidelines,” Hamra says. “Stay away, social distance, wear your mask. Wear your gloves. Whatever the guidelines are.”

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