Customer capacity limited as local restaurants resume sit-down service

Tables in Clearwater on the Newport Bayfront have been spaced to meet physical distancing requirements, which has reduced seating in the restaurant to about one-third of its typical capacity. (Photo by Kenneth Lipp)

LINCOLN COUNTY — Last weekend, patrons started returning to area restaurants for sit-down service for the first time in two months. The reopening comes with new strictures, including 6 feet of distance between parties, reducing the space available to serve customers.

The popular Clearwater restaurant on Newport’s Bayfront had plenty of business last weekend, though a reduction in capacity did mean extra wait times for some walk-in customers. Owner Janell Goplen said, “I think people are really relieved to be able to get out and eat — not cook for themselves or do their own dishes. They want a breather, a break, a moment to be taken care of.” Goplen said the restaurant’s seating had been reduced from more than 250 to a maximum of 70, so those without reservations might have to wait to be seated.

Megan McMillan, owner of the Tide Pool Pub & Pool in Depoe Bay, said she also did brisk business last weekend with mostly local clientele. Seating at the Tide Pool has also been cut down by distancing requirements, from 50 to about 20, but operations have been smooth so far, McMillan said. “There were a few people concerned about guests not wearing masks. They would come in with theirs on and look a little anxious, asking, ‘don’t people have to wear masks to be in here?’” McMillan said. She advised them that face coverings were only required for employees. “I felt like it was more a discomfort, but I didn’t have anyone being nasty about it,” she said.

Kyllo’s Restaurant and Bar in Lincoln City was not open for the weekend. Manager Sidney Simon said they opened on Tuesday with about a 40 percent reduction in capacity. There are typically about 40 tables, and about 15 were taken out to meet distancing requirements, Simon said.

Down in Yachats, the Drift Inn opened on Saturday with less than half of its normal seating capacity. “We’re fortunate to have indoor and outdoor seating, so we’ve been able to make it work,” Manager Stacey Goad said.

A truer test will come this weekend, when the Memorial Day holiday and the resumption of lodging in some jurisdictions promises to bring more tourists to the area.

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