PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Restaurant dining rooms are starting to reopen in Skamania County, one of eight Washington counties that have been approved for Phase Two of Governor Jay Inslee’s plan.
In Carson, Backwoods Brewing was the first restaurant to open its doors to dine-in customers over the weekend. The brewing pub had previously been open for take-out orders only, but jumped at the chance to reopen the dining room when Governor Inslee approved Skamania County for Phase Two one week ago. The staff quickly put together a plan and managed to reopen over the weekend of May 16-17.
The dining room can only operate at 50% capacity. Booths and tables had to be rearranged in accordance with social distancing requirements. Employees now wear masks and the pub’s menus have gone digital. All customers have to do is scan a code with their smartphones and the menu appears.
Backwoods Brewing CEO Steve Waters said he’s been pleasantly surprised at how well everyone has been following the new rules.
“There was a lot of trepidation about how customers would react because we are not used to being very rules-oriented,” said Waters.
However, he said he was thrilled when customers immediately recognized the state’s need for new rules, such as the limit of no more than five people to a table.
“It was really nice to see people so understanding of how crazy things are right now,” said Waters. “Everybody is trying out the new world. It’s been fun. It’s been stressful leading the charge, but it’s been fun being the guinea pigs.”
To help the state with contact tracing in the event of illness, customers can email the restaurant with names in their party and contact information. It’s helpful information, and at first, the governor made it a mandatory part of reopening, but backed off on that position last week.
Backwoods Brewing has been operating in Carson for eight years and just last year, the company opened another brewpub in Portland’s Pearl District. Currently, the Portland location is only open for take-out, but lessons learned during this reopening in Carson will be put to good use when it comes time for the second location to fully reopen.