HIGH COUNTRY — When Gov. Roy Cooper announced on May 22 that the state had met the COVID-19 data requirement to move from Phase 1 of his reopening plan to Phase 2, restaurants were free to open with capacity limitations in place and social distancing measures required.
Under the new restrictions, which are outlined in Cooper’s Executive Order 141, restaurants are asked to place tables at least six feet apart, keep dining rooms operating at no more than 50 percent capacity and remain diligent about disinfecting high-touch areas.
Additionally, as a measure to support local restaurants with capacity limits of 50 percent, the town of Boone on May 22 issued temporary outdoor dining guidance to allow restaurants and restaurant owners to place additional seating options outdoors until the end of Phase 3.
The guidance states:
- Temporary outdoor dining shall be placed on the property on which the restaurant is located
- Temporary outdoor dining shall not be placed on any town/NCDOT street or town sidewalk
- Temporary outdoor dining shall not impede pedestrian or automobile traffic.
- Restaurants that expand or create temporary outdoor dining shall follow and maintain the site in accordance with the N.C. Fire Prevention Code. Call the Boone Fire Department at (828) 268-6180 to schedule a complimentary inspection before opening the temporary outdoor dining. This inspection is to verify that the outdoor dining is in compliance with the N.C. Fire Prevention Code.
- At the end of Phase 3 all temporary outdoor dining shall be removed and the site returned to the condition it was prior to the expansion or creation of the temporary dining. Failure to do so will be a violation and enforcement action may be taken. Restaurants wishing to permanently expand or create outdoor dining shall apply for all proper permits through the town of Boone Planning and Inspections Department at (828) 268-6960.
While some High Country restaurants have reopened for dine-in, others are continuing to operate through curbside or take-out only. Some have opted to postpone reopening until COVID-19 infection rates decrease further.
Kindly Kitchen in Boone was able to stay open throughout the COVID-19-related shutdowns by providing fresh produce boxes to community members.
“Once we were allowed seating, we set up two tables in our dining space to seat approximately four people. The tables are 12 feet apart, and we have hand sanitizer and surface cleaner at each table for patrons to use and staff to use between customers,” said Caleb Crowell. “With the produce boxes, we’ve been able to keep moving a very similar volume of produce that we used before COVID-19 in just in a different form.”
F.A.R.M. Cafe of Boone reopened for curbside and take-out on June 1, and Executive Director Renee Boughman said on June 4 that the restaurant “will diligently watch and be ready as soon as we believe it is safe” to open for dine-in. The restaurant has no plans to expand its seating area to an outdoor setting as of June 4.
Lost Province in Boone announced its expanded outdoor dining area, which is permitted under the Boone guidance, on May 28 on its Facebook page. Additional seating has been added to the restaurant’s parking lot.
Lost Province staff is “strongly encouraging folks” to call ahead before they arrive at the restaurant in order to cut down on wait time, according to a Facebook post from May 26.
Storie Street Grille in Blowing Rock announced on its Facebook page on May 21 that it would reopen for dine-in on June 3, with new dishes featured on its dine-in menu. It will also continue offering curbside and delivery, according to the post.
“We have decided to scrap our assembly line plan and just make modifications for our previous service as that is what the staff prefers. We do ask that you not enter the building until notified that a table is ready for you. Reservations will need some extra wiggle room as our occupancy is less,” it states.
Twigs Restaurant & Bar reopened on May 22 in Blowing Rock, according to its Facebook page. The announcement stated that the restaurant will offer indoor and outdoor dining with capacity limits in mind, while regularly sanitizing.
Foggy Rock Eatery and Pub announced changes to its menu on May 22, keying visitors into the venue’s “new normal.”
“Due to rapidly rising food costs, we have made price adjustments based on market price,” states the announcement on Foggy Rock’s Facebook page. “Some items are unavailable to us as well. We are taking extreme precaution with sanitation as advised by the local health department.”
Foggy Rock also noted that with the reopening of its dine-in option, the restaurant will not be taking reservations or offering online ordering.