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Marion County restaurants hopeful they'll be allowed to open at full capacity

Decision from city upcoming
Posted at 11:49 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 23:51:24-04

On Wednesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Indiana would be moving to stage 5 of the state's reopening plan. Under stage 5, restaurants, nightclubs, and bars may open at full capacity but social distancing between people and tables must be maintained. Fitness centers can resume normal operations. Stage 5 will be in effect until at least Oct. 17.

However, bars and restaurants in Marion County are waiting anxiously to see if Mayor Joe Hogsett will allow Indianapolis to join the rest of the state in stage 5. An announcement is expected Friday.

"It would be great if we could reopen to full capacity," Lawrence Green, owner of Maialina Italian Kitchen + Bar, said. "We were shut down then went to doing carry out only. It's been a struggle."

Green opened Maialina in July 2019. He says things were going great until the pandemic forced them to close. Once reopening, they had to adapt to the new normal of operating a restaurant during a pandemic.

"We're getting back in the motion of it and we're definitely doing our best," Green said. "We're following mask rules, keeping tables six feet apart. Everybody's being safe."

Unlike Mass Ave. and Broad Ripple, the restaurants in Fountain Square could not add outside seating unless it was a built in part of their restaurant. Green says that hurt them a lot as well over the summer.

"We get a lot of calls. People wish they could sit outdoors and when they find out we don't have it, they say 'we'll talk to you another time,' Green said.

Green is hopeful the announcement from the city of Indianapolis will be in line with the state, meaning restaurants can operate at full capacity with customers maintaining social distance and keeping masks on except while eating and drinking. If Marion County restaurants are given the green light, customers can still expect for things to be kept as safe as possible.

"We offer them social distancing space. All of our tables are six feet apart. We sanitize our tables after each use," Shane Lovins, a manager at Maialina, said.

Lovins says once restaurants are allowed to reopen fully, he knows it's going to be awhile before many of them make up for all the money they've lost. He's hoping city leaders step in to fix that problem.

Last week, Indianapolis approved another $7.5 million in federal funding to help the hospitality industry including restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. They have not provided a way for businesses to apply for that money yet.