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Santa Barbara restaurants resume indoor dining

Joe's Cafe
Alex Zauner/KEYT
Joe's Cafe has resumed indoor dining while seating customers at every other table to maintain 25% capacity.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — After many months of operating outside, restaurants throughout State Street have finally opened their doors for indoor dining. 

Los Angeles resident Rozzette Grotsky enjoyed lunch with her family inside Joe's Cafe.

"It's actually very refreshing to be able to eat indoors and not have to eat in the car or do takeout,” Grotsky said.

With COVID-19 cases slowing down, Santa Barbara County moved into California’s red tier of restrictions on Wednesday. 

This gave restaurants the green light to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity or 100 people (whichever is fewer). 

"We are seating every other table up to a maximum of 20 people on each side of our restaurant,” Joe's Cafe manager Joey Somerville said.

Having customers back at the table is helping The Cruisery's owner Aron Ashland, who’s seen his revenue slide nearly 40% since the pandemic began.

“We had to drill a lot of new tables and we changed the size of some of them,” Ashland said. “We made some of our big tables into two smaller ones, so we could separate them.”

Despite a recent heat wave and poor air quality from fires, most customers still prefer to eat outdoors.

"People have gotten used to the outdoor dining concept,” Somerville said. “They love the patio."

Although it won’t be business as usual for quite some time, indoor dining symbolizes another step closer to normalcy.

"Having customers around and the noise of a restaurant, it's just nice to be back,” Ashland said. “Feeling like it's headed in the right direction."

The county is allowing no more than eight people per table.

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business
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Blake DeVine

Blake DeVine is a multimedia journalist and sports anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Blake, click here.

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