Restaurants are reopening across Southern California. Inside, some of them look like they did before the COVID-19 pandemic. LA County officials checked 2,000 restaurants over the weekend and found that half weren’t complying with guidelines.
Cameron Daxon manages the fast casual restaurant, Sweet Salt. He says they’ve cut back their 18 tables to just six. But that doesn’t mean people are lining up out the door.
“They’re eager to come. It’s just … we’re sandwiched between a hair salon and a skin care place, two of the industries that have had a hard time reopening. So a lot of our clientele hasn’t been coming in,” he says.
The Toluca Lake eatery also saw about 10 orders per day from studios in Universal City. Now Daxon says they’re lucky if they see one.
He says the restaurant is small enough that keeping staff apart has been the biggest challenge. “Normally we used to have five to six chefs on the line during a lunch shift. These days, we have to keep it down to two — one on one end, one on the other.”
Greg Wiegel is typically the private events coordinator at AOC in Beverly Grove. But these days, private events aren’t happening.
“I’ve got an apron back on a lot of times and taking orders,” he says. “We reopened on Tuesday for dine-in and it’s been pretty busy all week.”
Wiegel says it does look different inside. Everyone wears a mask until they’re eating, and they only sit down after their temperature is taken.
“Then if everyone passes, everyone walks essentially in a single-file line clockwise through the restaurant to the tables that are seated six-plus feet apart. They get a paper menu,” he says.
Draxon says Sweetsalt has been hitting the numbers required to keep the lights on. AOC expanded their takeout business and are planning to expand their outdoor seating to accommodate more guests.