Montgomery County Restaurants Reopen for In-person Dining

While restaurants in Montgomery County had been closed for in-person dining during much of the pandemic, Governor Larry Hogan recently reopened restaurants to 25 percent capacity, so customers can dine in for 90 minutes each.

 “Some workers have been laid off because of the low amounts of guests, it’s been hard,” Jeff Eng, Manager at Silo Falls, said.

The lack of revenue during the pandemic has caused various restaurants to close down and re-evaluate the previous business model whether that be staying open, takeout only or closing down. 

 “Our staff definitely feels blessed that we are staying open and that they are working,” Manager at Angelo’s Deli said.

An estimated 17 percent of restaurants in Montgomery County have closed down temporarily or permanently since the pandemic began. 

Takeout has become the new normal for many restaurants and customers. Nonetheless, the feeling of eating restaurant quality food inside of a box is not as appealing to some. 

“The food just doesn’t taste the same; it can sometimes be cold because you have to bring it into the car, but that’s not the restaurant’s fault. That’s just the reality of takeout,” junior Morgan Ohly said. 

Due to the fact that revenue for restaurants is so low, Hogan set aside $50 million for restaurant relief as part of the COVID relief grant initiative. This includes about $8 million to Montgomery County restaurants. 

With the weather conditions being so cold throughout the winter, Montgomery County allowing 25 percent capacity in restaurants couldn’t come at a better time. 

“It is nice to go to a restaurant and sit inside especially when it’s cold,” Ohly said. 

While the re-opening of Montgomery County restaurants to 25 percent capacity is great for the staff and business, people still have concerns about the pandemic and indoor dining. 

“I personally believe all it’s doing is unnecessarily endangering workers and other customers,” senior Taisia Mertz, a staff member at Moby Dick, said. 

The CDC does enforce protocols to try and protect the safety of workers. Establishments are also supporting the protocols from the CDC and implement them in their daily rituals. 

“All employees are getting bi-weekly COVID swab tests and temperatures are taken and logged before and after every shift,” Eng said.

Masks are mandatory when you enter an establishment and sanitize stations are located around most facilities. Tables are spread at least six feet apart from each other and customers are encouraged to social distance when they wait. 

Although businesses are wrestling because of the pandemic, many establishments have yet to lose hope and optimism. 

“We know we have the support of our community and that everything will be okay,” Manager at Angelo’s Deli said. 

Restaurants are learning to pivot around the norm in order to make revenue, but restaurants are ready to take on this challenge. 

“I know we will come out of the end stronger because of this,” Eng said.