March declared as "Restaurant Month" in Berrien County

STEVENSVILLE, Mich. -- As Michigan restaurants remain under a 25% capacity limit and 10 p.m. curfew, some Berrien County leaders are stepping in to put the spotlight on them throughout the month of March.

Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber President & CEO Arthur Havlicek went before the Board of Commissioners Thursday asking them to formally declare March “Restaurant Month” throughout all of the county, and give some momentum to these local business owners.

At Full Circle Café in Stevensville, they’re about to celebrate their fifth year of business, despite spending much of this last one closed to diners.

Thursday marked only their second day back open since Michigan’s epidemic orders went from a 30-day pause in November to a nearly three month shutdown.

“There’s been a lot of confusion with the rules changing, and once it really started affecting our sales because we were literally having people come in expecting to sit down and then they would walk out and go someplace they could,” said owner Jayme Vendoski. “When that happens for three weeks, then for the life of our business we had to say ‘Ok, let’s do this.’”

The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber and Berrien County Board of Commissioners are also advocating for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to adopt a regional approach to restrictions where counties can set guidelines for businesses.

But in the meantime, the restaurants need support.

“We’ll be working with municipalities, our members and all restaurants to come up with specials, promotions and deals in order to encourage more consumer spending during this month,” said Havlicek.

Both the chamber and commissioners also recognize that many Berrien County residents traveled to Indiana for dine-in during Michigan’s restaurant closure and are hoping Hoosiers will now explore this side of the state line.

“I’m hoping they return the favor, come up and see all of the amenities we have to offer because we have a lot of phenomenal restaurants,” said Havlicek.

And maybe discover a new spot here on Lake Michigan’s shoreline.

“It really is a great opportunity for people to find the new favorite restaurant in this area,” said Vendoski.

Restaurant Month in Berrien County officially kicks off March 1.

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