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RESTAURANT REOPENING: Is patio dining helping business?

Five West server

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) - Servers wearing masks, hand sanitizing stations, digital menus and more are just some of the changes you can expect when going to your favorite restaurant next.

It has been a lot of work for restaurant owners to get reopened, even a little frustrating as many are not seeing a big enough increase in profits.

"I'm not going to lie. It's been tough," said restaurant owner Todd Jensen.

Brother's Bar and Grill, another Rochester favorite, reopened this week, but has not yet seen a lot of customers.

"We're struggling to be able to turn enough revenue to pay the bills. I really hope we get an increase in our capacity at one point," said Kevin Smoot, the new owner of Brother's.

The restaurant does not have much room to add more seats and only has one chef, cooking only certain items.

"We can't make everyone happy with a limited menu," Smoot said. "As we're able to, we're going to add things back on and get the favorites back."

Another Rochester favorite, Nupa, also has limited outdoor seating. However, the owners tell me that the carry-out business has been good. Yet for some restaurants in town, that's not the case."

"It's not. We need to get back inside," said Jensen, owner of Five West. "That being said, we know we're not going to pack the entire place. We'd just like the opportunity to be able to do it in small increments, maybe at 25 percent right away."

Customers are excited to return.

"Oh yeah. I'm hoping to get in as many restaurants as I can over the next couple weeks. I think we're all itching for it," said Alex Mayer, who was at his second restaurant this week.

Even if they don't like some of the changes.

"They got these little strange barcodes on the tables right now," said Mayer as he ate at Nellie's. "I'm not a big fan of that. I hope they come up with some real menus soon."

Five West had its patio ready to go.

"Right now the atmosphere is great. We got the music going," Jensen said.
"The sun shining and people are just happy to be outside."

Food is being served outside, but it does not feel normal to some. At least not yet.

"Once we can seat people inside," said Smoot. "Nobody likes to eat out of Styrofoam."

The restaurant owners said that while they always try to keep a clean kitchen, they are more aware than ever about the dangers of viruses and bacteria on surfaces. All of them assure customers that it is safe to eat outside at the establishments.

Alex Tejada

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