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Some but not all Old Market restaurants expand capacities as restrictions ease

Local restaurants transition back to dine-in service
Local restaurants transition back to dine-in service(WOWT)
Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 9:29 PM CDT
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Phase three of Nebraska reopening means restaurants have the option to open up 100 percent of seating.

Dozens of restaurants in the Old Market are facing that decision Monday -- and nearly all have chosen to expand capacity, while some remain closed and others remain at 50 percent capacity.

Jams at 11th and Harney Streets is one of the businesses to completely open.

“We’re not exactly sure how to handle the 100 percent capacity when it comes because it’s been a few weeks,” said Mindy Venditte, Jams service manager.

The decision today like many made the last few months was nerve-racking. Their top priority is safety.

“Some of our coworkers have some health issues, so they have to think about that, but we’re staying positive and keeping up with extra precautions, that everything will work out just fine,” Venditte said.

But with restaurants taking a hard hit during the pandemic, it’s nice to know their employees are a little busier.

“Obviously we’re excited for the sales and the business and they get back to normal. We hope that everybody is still taking precautions and is smart about their choices. It’s a new era,” Venditte said.

The Old Mattress Factory at 13th and Cass Streets is taking it a little slower.

“We’re not looking to expand too much. We’re just trying to make sure we’re being safe for our customers and employees,” said Peter Violi, Old Mattress Factory general manager.

Until the COVID-19 numbers trend down more, they’ll continue seating at about 80 percent capacity.

“I guess our customers will lead us in what direction we go. If they are comfortable coming in like that, then we’ll just assess it with our staff and get to a number that works for the both of us, I suppose,” Violi said.

A common thread from other establishments 6 News spoke with Monday -- when the customers are ready, restaurants will make bigger moves.

While down in the Old Market Monday, a few locations that were pretty full and others that still had their chairs turned upside-down. It’s been an uncertain year and some restaurants don’t seem quite ready to commit to being fully open.