As Nashville reopens, some business owners play it safe
Restaurants continue to encourage takeout orders, others remain closed
A welcome sign at Party Fowl in downtown Nashville. (Photo: Tennessee Lookout)
As Nashville begins Phase One of reopening, the once vibrant Nashville dining and entertainment scene is gradually reopening, with many establishments forgoing even to-go orders and remaining closed.
Brenda Sanderson, owner of several downtown businesses such as Legends Corner and Second Fiddle, remains skeptical about opening her honky-tonk bars without Nashville’s iconic music scene.
“It’s Nashville, for heaven’s sake. Nashville is nothing without its musicians,” said Sanderson, who wants more focus placed on Nashville’s performers to alleviate their job losses. “We must have music in Music City. If you take that away, you’ve taken away the essence of who we are as a city.”
She’s promoting a soft opening with limited staff but does not expect much traffic due to restrictions on entertainment and hopes the government will change their policy as soon as possible.
Mayor John Cooper’s new guidelines came as a surprise to many who expected Nashville to remain closed, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Davidson County.
One business owner caught off guard was former Metro Councilmember Anthony Davi, a founder of East Nashville Beer Works.
“It was quite a surprise because we haven’t had a decline (in virus cases),” said Davis, who had prepared to re-open his businesses in June.
East Nashville Beer Works will open later this week after ensuring they meet Metro guidelines and are confident they can guarantee the safety of both their customers and staff. The brewery has the added advantage of having a patio that will allow them to offer outside-dining only as an added precaution to keep their staff-to-customer interactions limited, but Davis wants to encourage customers to continue ordering to-go instead of dining in due to limited space and possible wait times.
“I know a lot of restaurants are still not opening even though they can,” said Davis. Business owners should consider what’s best for them and their building layout, he said.
Other restaurants will be maintaining their to-go only policy and express concerns about transitioning back to in-restaurant dining.
Teresa Yepez, manager of La Hacienda Taqueria, remembers trying to keep social-distancing guidelines during the early COVID-19 phase two months ago. That experience aided in her choice to remain a to-go only restaurant for the time being..
“We feel like it’s the right decision to make,” said Yepez, citing concerns for employee safety.
She said other issues must be resolved before she will open as dine-in again, including hiring staff and putting policies and supplies in place to meet the new guidelines..
With the added sales from to-go alcohol, the Mexican restaurant has maintained adequate profits and hopes Metro will continue to allow the policy until all restaurants are ready to fully open.
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