Restaurants reopening to dine-in customers

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Restaurants and businesses can now re-open as a part of Governor Eric Holcomb’s ‘Back on Track’ plan.

A South Bend favorite, Maxi’s Food and Spirit Barn opened its doors to dine-in customers for the first time in two months on Monday evening.

It is all just a little new for the family-owned business. Most of the restaurant’s normal layout is already acting in their favor as the tables are set apart by dividers, naturally giving people six feet of distance.

To keep customers safe, the team is heavily sanitizing everything, wearing masks and keeping six feet of distance outdoors for customers waiting to come in. Maxi’s is also being mindful of the small things, such as buying customers individually wrapped straws.

The upstairs bar area will also be open. While people cannot actually drink at the bar, they can still sit at one of the social distanced tables near the bar.

Maxi’s plans to take things slow to make sure everyone is comfortable, but what they are most excited for is to see their customers again, according to owner Barbara Court.

“We want them to feel comfortable,” Barbara Court said, owner of Maxi’s Food & Spirit Barn. “I mean we’ve always wanted them to feel comfortable and at home in our place, but we want them to feel comfortable knowing that we’ve taken every precaution that we can.”

Maxi’s will cut their hours to 5 p.m.-9 p.m. but will offer the full menu.

Maxi’s is usually closed on Monday’s as is Carmela’s near downtown South Bend. Carmela’s will reopen for dine-in service starting Tuesday.

Customers might notice a big change at Carmela’s—there are a lot less tables. The team is taking a number of steps, starting with spacing tables out six feet apart.

They do ask people to plan ahead and make a reservation so that they can continue to control that capacity.

All employees have also been fully trained and prepared for the new changes to make sure customers feel safe.

The family-owned business is excited to open back up and bring a little positive energy to the community, according to Adriana Macri. Macri said they also look forward to welcoming back many of their staff members.

“I think that the changes that we’ve made hopefully will allow them to feel, you know, more comfortable coming back,” Macri said. “We’ve really done a lot of work here to enforce the changes and to make people feel comfortable.”

Carmela’s might also introduce an app that would allow customers to order even while they are dining with them if it might make them feel more comfortable.

While people missing their favorite dine-in hotspots are in luck as restaurants are able to open again, not all business owners are ready to take the leap just yet.

L Street Kitchen in downtown South Bend is eager to welcome back customers in-person, but not until Thursday.

Chef and manager, Michael LaCarrubba stays busy throughout the day fulfilling take-out orders, but dine-in service will officially make a comeback on Thursday with a new experience.

The team at L Street Kitchen has actually built a separation wall between the door and dining area, in addition to cutting the size of their tables down to meet at least six feet of distance.

All employees will wear masks and gloves.

Their entire social life revolves around their regulars and others that stop in, according to LaCarrubba.

That is why they are taking their time to make sure all of the necessary measures are in place, to keep everyone safe once crowds start to trickle back in.

“It’s just, let’s take the precautions now, let’s do it slow,” Michael LaCarrubba said, Manager and Chef of L Street Kitchen. “You know, we’ve done it for eight weeks, so what’s the point of doing all that for eight weeks and then coming back and messing it all up. So let’s, you know, just like we’re going to just ease into it.”

LaCarrubba said they are even considering adding on a carport outside of the building to give customers more space and make it comfortable for them to wait outside before being seated.

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