By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Some offered limited take-out and outdoor seating. Some shuttered and decided just to wait it out. And, unfortunately, some simply went out of business.
But after months of COVID restrictions that crippled an industry, a glimmer of hope in Deschutes County on Friday.
Restaurants and bars welcomed customers back inside with limited indoor seating.
“The reopening to indoor dining to restaurants and bars couldn’t be coming at a better time right now, especially with this winter storm that just came in,” said Jesse Luersen, Bend Tasting Room Manager at Naked Winery.
Until Friday, the winery offered only outdoor seating.
Just up the road, owners of Palate Coffee Bar got its indoor tables ready for customers on Friday.
After several months of outdoor seating only, the coffee shop will be able to get back to the mission co-owner Jason Rhodes originally had in mind.
“We wanted to make the best coffee we can, but really the vision all along was community,” Rhodes said.
It was a slow start getting customers back indoors for the coffee shop.
“Very few people even realize we’re open,” Rhodes said. “We’ve had a few people come in today, but it’s been a slow trickle. People will need to get used to this again.”
Even with Gov. Kate Brown’s mandate lifted, not everyone is ready to offer indoor seating yet.
“I’m just pretty wary of jumping right back into the pot and then being told a couple weeks from now, nope, we’re going to this again,” Scott Byers, the owner of the Bend restaurant Ronin, said. “Financially you can’t keep going back and forth.”
Byers will continue to offer take-out this weekend, then he plans to take next week off and decide on next steps.
“I get that everybody wants to open up, but I also respect people like myself that want to hang back and watch,” Byers said. “If three weeks from now if our cases go back up, and Kate Brown says we need to go backwards…we just can’t go forward only to go backwards again.”