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Wasatch Back Restaurants Adapt To Opening Guidelines

Granny's Drive In-Laurel North

Social distancing and wearing face masks when in public places remain critical for COVID-19 prevention. Summit and Wasatch County restaurant owners are asking patrons to follow the recommendations made by both the Governor’s office and county health facilities.

Mike Motyka and his wife Wendy own and operate Granny’s in Heber City. They’re well known for their shakes and have been around for decades. Motyka was stunned by how many customers came by this past weekend. He said inside, they followed all the protocols. However, outside was a different story.

“We just noticed that outside was kind of the opposite. It was pretty much a free for all and you know we had hundreds of people you know throughout the day.”

He said most people did not practice social distancing nor were people wearing masks. They were surprised by the crowds of people that turned out. He said it was comparable to a busy summer day.  It’s a seasonal business and Motyka said in the four or five years they’ve owned it , their opening in May is usually pretty quiet. There are some shortages he noticed in his food deliveries.

“In my ordering, I’ve already gotten like three different brands of burger patties. You know which is kind of not ideal but we're taking what we have to.”

This week, they decided to do things differently and take only online or phone orders. They won’t take cash or in-person payments so a credit card will have to be given when the order is placed.  He says they can’t afford any COVID illness and last weekend’s crowds and  their lack of prevention practices showed him that they needed to make a change.

“Well, first of all, if one of us gets sick, me or my wife, we’re shutting down. It’s not like we have this manager. It's like, it's done. It's closed. If an employee gets sick, what do you do? I mean, you would have to assume everyone would have to get tested, and I mean it's just a nightmare.  So, we're going purely phone and online orders at grannysdrivin.com.”

On Park City’s Historic Main Street, Restaurant Manager Alyssa Marsh from 501 Main decided to focus on the new guidelines and sanitization protocols before starting up the dine in service. They’ll be installing their dining deck on Wednesday and plan to re-open Thursday. She said the food options are based on seasonal growers and they haven’t seen shortages, but the delivery schedules are being curtailed.

“We have gone to extremely restrictive deliveries with some of our food purveyors. Normally we have six days a week, twice a day that we can get deliveries and they went two or four days a week with only one delivery.”

She said she can adjust her ordering to work with the less frequent delivery schedule. Marsh said she knows of restaurants that won’t open at all this summer.

"We can’t afford it. We’re closing. We may just open up in December, knowing that how unbalanced it is today. They can't guarantee they're going to have customers for the summer and canceling our major events like Silly Sunday and Savor The Summit and events like that that draws people to Park City has a lot of people worried if it's worth it 'cause I know if I close my doors how much money I'm gonna spend, but if my doors are open I can't tell you how much money I’m going to lose.”

Marsh understands the dilemma some restaurateurs are facing but she believes the Salt Lake market is very attracted to the energy of Main Street.

"They love the street decks. They love being outside. They love how welcoming we are to people coming in, even if it's just for a day, to get outside and refresh. As soon as we can start to do that, people will come back.”

She said they’ll be taking staff temperatures every shift. They have all the PPE they need including locally made masks and sanitizing products from area distillers. Customers will be asked to use a mask when possible while dining.

“Our biggest difficulty is the timing of the communication of when we get this information. Tthe day before or when we shut down was an email 5 minutes before we were supposed to have customers. If they give us the parameters we’ll gladly, energetically work within them to do the best that we can to provide the best guest experience which is inclusive of safety and health and food preparation, absolutely.”

Marsh said they open for the season on Thursday. For now, they’re only going to be open Thursday through Sunday. 

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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