Restaurateurs excited to see smiling faces, bar stools


Oregon, Washington both open at full capacity

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Some restaurant and bar owners are looking forward to seeing people’s faces. Others are looking forward to putting their bar stools back out and letting people sit where they want.

Regardless, restaurateurs in the Portland and Vancouver areas are looking forward to going maskless, allowing more people to dine in and enjoy themselves fully.

Ryan Sharp, the owner and winemaker at Enso Winery in Southeast Portland, is excited to see faces and to be able to utilized his 100-person banquet space for weddings, receptions and parties.

Now that Oregon is reopened, Sharp said he expects to see a shift in service this summer and fall.

“My whole thing is I want to give people permission to be free, to live again, to celebrate. Every person is going to do that in their own way based on their own risk tolerance and I respect that,” Sharp said. “We’re not going to say, ‘Hey, get your mask off over there,’ nothing like that. I want to offer people ease and respect in our space and part of that is treating them as individuals who can make up their own minds about what they want to do.”

He said he senses cautious optimism among other business owners and restaurateurs. For him, it’s a mix of emotions, but he’s especially happy to break out the bar stools again and get to visit with guests in a more intimate and natural setting.

That’s the same at Little Conejo in downtown Vancouver. Co-owner Mychal Dynes said he’s looking forward to bringing bar seating back.

“I’m mostly excited about having our regular guests sit where they’ve wanted to sit for so long,” Dynes said. “Our talented bartenders can explain what the spirit is along with the story behind it and that makes the whole experience better for our guests.”

The fresh squeezed juice and watermelon margaritas will be flowing this weekend. But Dynes does have a concern over staffing. He’s adding more seats but is having a hard time hiring people.

They’re hiring for all positions and wants to bring more great people onto the Little Conejo team.

In fact, the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce said they are hearing that many businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, can’t go to full capacity as they don’t have enough staff in place that are trained to accommodate a full house.

Dynes wants everybody to get out this weekend, support their local eateries, be patient and tip generously.

“Thanks to everyone in Vancouver and North Portland where our food truck is, for supporting us through this whole thing,” he said.

Sharp summed up what many people feel.

“I will say I’m really looking forward to seeing people’s faces again and for them to see mine,” he said. “A smirk is very different from a smile, and you can’t tell the difference behind a mask. So, I’m looking forward to that human connection again.”

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