BLUEFIELD — Another step was taken Thursday toward reopening West Virginia’s businesses with restaurants being able to offer indoor dining at 50 percent capacity and malls reopening their doors to shoppers.
In downtown Bluefield, the Blue Spoon Cafe & Coffee was offering indoor dining. Owner Nicole Coeburn said she had a table of six that morning and two other diners coming in to pick up orders.
“We are doing pick-up orders, we are doing indoor dining and we are doing outdoor dining when the weather permits,” she said.
Being able to serve customers indoors again will be a help, Coeburn stated.
“It gives us a sense of normalcy,” she said. “And we’re able to reconnect with our customers. It’s been a couple of months now, so we can reconnect with them and talk to them and reestablish our relationship.”
Coeburn said she had started offering coffee only a few days before the pandemic started. Now that diners can come indoors again, she will offer expressos, cappuccinos and iced coffee.
Other restaurants and businesses offering food and drink were waiting to finish their plans for offering indoor dining. Several on Mercer Street in Princeton were making these preparations.
“We’re doing carry out, and curbside pickup and deliveries to local businesses,” said Manager Chelsea Lester at the Appalachian Coffee House. “We are going to continue to keep the dining area closed for now until we have a system where we can still do the curbside and carry out while maintaining social distancing. Our dining area isn’t the largest, but we’re trying to figure it out and get our back space ready.”
Deliveries and curbside service had helped keep the coffee house in operation.
“It’s been going really well,” Lester said. “We’ve had a lot of support from our regulars and people in the community. A lot of local businesses have had us deliver, and come by and pick up their coffee.”
Over at the nearby Sophisticated Hound Brewing Company, owner Matt Barrett was not planning to open the indoor parts of his restaurant and bar immediately, but preparations were being made for next week.
“We are doing our own timelines and make sure we have all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed,” he said Thursday. “This week we’re still doing pick up, and would be doing outdoor dining on our patio if it wasn’t for the weather. Next week we’ll be following all the guidelines, and we can also be 50 percent at the bar area, so that will help us.”
The Mercer Mall opened Thursday, but not all of the stores were open yet for business. Some of the stores with outside entrances such as Hobby Lobby, Rural King and Roses have been open with dedicated entrances and exits, plus social distancing among shoppers.
Signs at the main entrances stated that the mall’s reduced hours of operation were 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Visitors were asked to stay 6 feet apart and observe other safety guidelines. Mall employees in the food court were sanitizing tables and chairs after they were used, and there were hand washing stations. Mall officials were not immediately available Thursday.
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