Atlanta restaurant owners say reopening success comes down to customer confidence

Restaurant owners said reopening will depend on customer's confidence

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp has lifted most coronavirus restrictions across the state, which means more of you can eat out at restaurants, go to the movies, take in an outdoor concert and more.

Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston talked with small business owners about the executive order, which gets Georgia closer to our old normal.

[RELATED: Gov. Kemp lifts more COVID-19 restrictions for restaurants, conventions and concert venue]

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Chris Foster owns two Your Pie restaurants in metro Atlanta. He said Gov. Kemp's executive order will help him get back on track and help his 37 employees.

"First and foremost, I want to thank Governor Kemp for his courage," Foster said. "It's been a lot of strain on business owners to stay afloat and keep our employees employed, so I welcome it."

Starting Tuesday, there will no longer be a limit on the number of people who can sit together at restaurants or in dining rooms. There is also no longer a limit on the number of people per square foot at restaurants. Only employees interacting with customers will have to wear masks. Cafeteria-style serving will also be allowed again.

Foster said he knows some customers may not be ready to dine in just yet.

"But as a business owner, it's good news," Foster said. "Because at the end of the day I'm going to keep the lights on. Once they feel comfortable to come back in, we'll be there."

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Channel 2′s Tony Thomas talked to other business owners who felt the same way: that it comes down to customer confidence and their willingness to walk through the doors, sit down and have a meal in public.

Local Republic owner Ben Bailey hopes customers will gain more confidence as state restrictions ease.

"It's been a little rough," Bailey said. "We are still sitting about that 50% of where we were last year. It's great to see we can get some sales moving and get people in and get the kitchen working again."

Thomas talked to Georgia Restaurant Association Executive Director Karen Bremmer, who agrees with Bailey that the real impact will come when customers regain their confidence to eat out again.

"The Governor has give small business owners the ability to decide what's best for their businesses, employees and customers," Bremmer said.

Customers were already starting to trickle back in to Local Republic.

"I'm a hundred percent for easing back in," customer Stephanie Smith said.

“I think it’s going to be awhile before we can get back to what was normal,” customer Susie Inglett said. “I think I’m looking more forward to people not being afraid.”

Restaurant owners hopeful about reopening