Carbondale restaurants preparing to open for Illinois’ Phase 4 with indoor seating

Restaurants prepare for indoor seating

CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - The state will enter Phase 4 of its Restore Illinois plan Friday, which means restaurants can offer indoor seating.

Several businesses owners in Carbondale are preparing to welcome customers back inside their facilities.

Indoor dining can reopen with groups of 10 or fewer, with tables spaced 6 feet apart in seated areas and with standing areas at no more than 25 percent of capacity.

Right along the Carbondale strip on U.S. Route 51, some businesses are closed, some are offering takeout or delivery and others are allowing patrons to order inside with face mask.

Chango’s co-owner Jasmine Alexander said she misses the ambiance of having patrons eat in the restaurant.

”Some places you have to be there to sit down and eat it to enjoy it,” she said. “So I know it will help for people to come back and be able to sit down, enjoy a meal that’s fresh and hot and just take in the atmosphere and actually be able to chat right then and there.”

While Alexander is looking forward to the Phase 4 changes, she knows it was take serious preparation and planning to get back to the new normal.

“We are fine even if we just take out this middle row, I’ll make sure that there’s still enough sitting for people to be able to sit down,” Alexander said.

Right up the road, Meo Myo Cafe’s Manager Stephen Hardnett is also getting ready to welcome back customers. Throughout the pandemic closure, the cafe has only done take out.

“We’ll just be spacing out the tables and we’re a small crew anyway,” Hardnett said. “We kind of already had ideas about the reservation system 10 people or less per hour and just keep up our cleaning practices.”

While some businesses here in Carbondale are preparing to open their doors for indoor seating this Friday for Phase Four, Thai Taste’s owner Tam Rachatanavin said he needs more time to keep his customers safe.

“We are definitely not open for dine in on Friday. We are probably going to hold off a week, maybe two.”

Rachatanavin and his staff focused on curbside pickup and GrubHub delivery these couple of last months.

On Tuesday afternoon, he and his staff were changing the layout of the indoor seating.

“We are playing with configuration, I need to get plexiglass to separate the booths out,” Rachatanavin said. “Putting tables where they are safely far apart per guidelines while not making it look a little ridiculous.”

Back at Changos, Alexander is hoping customers will embrace this new phase.

“I want to make things as normal and comfortable for people as possible, but I also want them to go back to where they enjoy it and feel at home,” Alexander said.

In addition, businesses and communities across Illinois can now apply for $85 million worth of grants. The grants are available for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Business owners have until July 7 to apply.

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