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How 3 local restaurants plan to adjust to phase 2 of reopening this weekend

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Sandwich Tree in Idaho Falls is one of many restaurants reopening their dining area for customers this week. | Facebook

IDAHO FALLS – Phase 2 of Gov. Brad Little’s plan to reopen businesses in Idaho begins this Saturday. Gyms, hair salons and restaurants will now be able to open with restrictions.

RELATED | Little moves Idaho into Stage 2 of reopening; restaurants, gyms, salons back in business

While drive-thru and take-out orders have been permitted, many restaurants have suffered economically as they’ve waited to open their dining rooms since March.

Here’s a look at how three Idaho Falls eateries plan to return to normal in the coming weeks.

1 Fine Cafe

1 Fine Cafe began offering a takeout menu shortly after the pandemic began. Though it’s been a huge success, owner David Kempner says he is not planning on opening inside dining anytime soon.

“We are playing it safe for now,” Kempner says. “We will take orders, gather food from inside the cafe and then deliver it to customer’s cars. This way, we have no customers inside and can eliminate the need to surface clean and attempt to keep everyone at safe distances from each other.”

Sterilizing everything constantly would increase labor at the restaurant, Kempner says, and he doesn’t want to cut seating in half to keep up with it. Continuing with curbside service is the best option for right now, he says.

Beginning Tuesday, May 19, the cafe will begin a grab and go service to help customers get in and out quickly and limit contact with other people.

1 Fine Cafe is at 1900 Channing Way in Idaho Falls. It’s open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call (208) 932-2819 to place an order or visit the website to order online.

Garcia’s

Takeout order at Garcia’s in Idaho Falls. | Courtesy Jeremy Leyba

After a busy few months of offering curbside and take out service for customers, Jeremy Leyba, the service manager at Garcia’s, says they are eager to open up their dining room again.

“We’re shooting for Saturday, May 16 (to reopen our dining room),” Leyba says.

The restaurant hosts a brunch for several different holidays that always attract a huge crowd, Leyba says. Several holidays occurred during the pandemic and those events were canceled.

Leyba says takeout orders have stayed busy and consistent, and traffic has been comparable to normal conditions. That’s been overwhelming, he says.

“At 5:00, everyone orders, and then they just wait. That makes it tough when we had to lay off roughly 50 people,” he says. “Not having the foot traffic inside has been tough. Our business per week is probably half or less.”

The pandemic’s effect on restaurants extends to other types of business, Leyba says, and that will continue to be felt moving forward.

“It’s not just restaurants that are affected. Our distributors have less traffic, too, because we aren’t ordering as much as we normally do,” says Leyba.

A shortage of meat, cheese and other basic products could be a challenge many restaurants face once everything reopens, Leyba says.

Garcia’s is next to the Grand Teton Mall in Idaho Falls at 2180 E. 17th Street. Its hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

The Sandwich Tree

Angel Chapple, owner of the Sandwich Tree in Idaho Falls, tells EastIdahoNews.com they’ve been offering take-out only since the onset of the pandemic, but the dining area room will open Saturday depending on their parking situation.

“The city has half of our parking lot under construction,” Chapple says. “We can’t wait to allow some people to sit down and eat.”

Take-out orders have remained steady during COVID-19 and Chapple is grateful for the community’s support during this turbulent time.

“We are so thankful to our customers. We have an established business that we are so blessed to have. We’ve been in the community for a lot of years, and it’s been really amazing to watch the community come together and support us,” says Chapple.

The Sandwich Tree is at 500 W. 17th Street and is open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

RELATED | Little sets 4-stage plan to reopen Idaho businesses over 2 months by end of June

In addition to the reopenings, public gatherings are limited to less than 10 people.

RELATED | Local salons preparing to open their doors in May

Phase 3 of the reopening phase begins on May 30, which will allow vulnerable Idahoans to resume public interaction with social distancing. Non-essential travel and 14-day self-quarantines for visitors to Idaho will also resume. Gatherings of 15-20 people will be allowed.

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