Diners begin to return to Arizona restaurants on limited basis

May 11, 2020, 8:25 AM | Updated: 2:47 pm
social distancing...
(KTAR News Photo/Kevin Stone)
(KTAR News Photo/Kevin Stone)

PHOENIX — Restaurants in Arizona began resuming dine-in service Monday in the next phase of reopening the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced a week ago that customers could return to sit-down dining under social-distancing guidelines that include party limits of 10 and comprehensive sanitation techniques and employee guidelines.

From large chains to local mom-and-pop eateries, restaurants prepared to host patrons for the first time in nearly two months.

Weekend regular Cathy Franklin made a special trip to visit the Chompie’s near her Paradise Valley home early in the morning.

“Back to normal … whatever normal is,” she told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Franklin said she received an email from the chain explaining how it would be protecting customers and staff.

Chompie’s managing partner Joseph DeMatteo said tables were placed 6 feet part, per guidelines, and large plexiglass partitions were installed between booths.

“We’re all wearing masks, we all have gloves on,” he said. “Everything is getting sanitized after every use.”

Restrooms are being checked every 15 minutes and hand sanitizer is available to customers in three spots in the dining area, he added.

Phoenix-based restaurateur Sam Fox, the founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts, said 11 of his stores opened Monday in four markets. Flower Child locations in Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix and Tucson are open, along with The Henry and Dough Bird. He plans to follow with several Culinary Dropout and Zinburger locations in the coming days.

“Our goal is not to be busy for the first week,” Fox told The Associated Press. “Our goal is to make sure we have our procedures in place, our employees are feeling safe. We really want to get this right the first time.”

The usually crowded Flower Child in the Phoenix neighborhood of Arcadia had many tables missing. Some of the others were marked as reserved to maintain distance between customers. A handful of people dined on salads, bowls or entrees, but most of the food went as takeout.

Ducey’s stay-home order, which went into effect March 31, is in effect through May 15. He extended it, with modifications, before it was initially set to expire at the end of April.

He allowed retail stores, hair salons and barbershops following guidelines to reopen Friday.

Ducey made the decisions about opening up while citing a downward trend in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

However, some restaurants have said they will remain closed until the governor’s stay-at-home order expires or they feel prepared to meet new conditions.

On the Navajo Nation, which is seeing some of the highest infection rates in the United States, restaurants remain limited to takeout and delivery. The tribal president was considering extending the restriction beyond May 17, when it is set to expire.

Ducey said other businesses and facilities, including gyms and swimming pools, will be allowed to open later.

He said he’s still discussing the best dates and safety protocols with industry representatives. Movie theaters have asked to reopen on July 15 and don’t expect film studios to release movies before then, he said.

The governor has been hammered by some fellow Republican lawmakers who were angered by his extended closure order amid the tanking economy.

Some Republicans fumed when he warned business owners that they’d put their liquor licenses at risk if they defied his orders and reopened before it was authorized.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Jovanni Limon Salas and Diego Ediel Chaparro (Arizona Attorney General's Office Photos)...

2 men sentenced to prison for drug trafficking in Arizona

Two men were recently sentenced to prison in separate cases for involvement in a drug trafficking organization, the Arizona Attorney General's Office said this week.
1 day ago
(Facebook File Photo/Lake Pleasant Regional Park)...
Associated Press

Woman dies after boating accident at Lake Pleasant

A woman has died after she was critically injured in a boating accident at Lake Pleasant, authorities said Sunday.
1 day ago
(Pexels Photo)...

Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from May 20-22

An employment report finding the state saw a significant jobs increase last month is among the biggest Arizona stories of the weekend.
1 day ago
(Prescott Regional Airport Photo)...

Small plane crashes after taking off from airport in Prescott, pilot not injured

A small plane crashed after taking off from the Prescott Regional Airport on Sunday but the pilot was not injured, authorities said.
1 day ago
(File Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey OK’s ban on school COVID-19 vaccines

Arizona's Republican governor has signed legislation that will prevent state health officials from ever adding a COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required school inoculations and bar face mask mandates in any buildings operated by state or local governments.
1 day ago
(Twitter Photo/@PHXFire)...

Crews battle 4-alarm fire at Phoenix scrapyard early Sunday

Fire crews were battling a four-alarm fire Sunday morning at a local scrapyard in Phoenix, authorities said.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Christina O’Haver

Stroke month: Experts call attention to stroke prevention

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
By Dr. Richard Carmona

Now’s a great time to receive your COVID-19 vaccine

If you haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine yet, now’s the time to join many other of your fellow Arizonans who are doing so right now. No one will criticize you; there is no shame. In fact, you’ll be welcomed with smiles and open arms!
Diners begin to return to Arizona restaurants on limited basis