Some Arizona restaurants not ready to reopen dining rooms

May 12, 2020, 4:25 AM
(Facebook Photo/The Churchill)...
(Facebook Photo/The Churchill)
(Facebook Photo/The Churchill)

PHOENIX — Not all Arizona restaurants reopened their dining rooms Monday despite authorization from Gov. Doug Ducey to do so amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Ducey had modified his original executive order that had closed them to stop the spread of COVID-19.

But some of those places were simply not ready, including The Churchill in downtown Phoenix.

“One of our businesses, in order to get open, only kept two of their people on,” said co-managing partner Kell Duncan. “They don’t have a staff. They have to go and rehire people now.”

Duncan says The Churchill’s eateries are fighting to survive two months after dining rooms were ordered closed.

“It’s way more difficult to get this thing fired back up if you have a restaurant with perishable food,” he added.

When it does reopen, The Churchill’s overall capacity at the campus will drop from 550 to keep social distancing standards for staffs and guests.

“We’re in the process of rearranging the courtyard,” Duncan explained. “We now have 140 seats.

“Originally, The Churchill was very porous with six entrances. We’re going to one so we can monitor both the number of people and that people are being safe.”

Hand sanitizer stations will also cover the marketplace. The 200-square-foot retail spaces are considering appointment-only shopping, online retail options, and personal shoppers to handle the products.

Duncan says his bar — which cannot reopen yet — is adding plastic shield guards and payment stations.

He hopes all ten restaurants, bars and shops will reopen together later this month — so the place looks as full as possible — even with COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’re trying to get on the same page with everyone, and getting everyone feeling comfortable enough to open on the same date,” Duncan said. “But that might be food and beverage first and then retail to follow.”

The Churchill’s places have been closed for two months — except for the three restaurants with curbside and delivery options. But they know they must be careful going forward.

“It’s not a light switch in terms of turning it on and off,” Duncan said. “If we get ready to open and then we have to close again, that’s going to cost us pretty dearly.”

Duncan said The Churchill could have benefited with more notice from Ducey about when they could reopen. However, the governor has told Arizonans all along things are too fluid and he reevaluates constantly.

Duncan also realizes that restaurants and businesses are all in different phases of preparedness, so those that are ready to reopen shouldn’t be held back.

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Some Arizona restaurants not ready to reopen dining rooms