By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Restaurants are getting ready to reopen for dine-in customers. Starting Wednesday, the state is turning the COVID-19 dial — allowing up to 250 customers in sit-down dining rooms at a time.

“It felt like something was broken. I am very encouraged it’s opening up again.”

For Lord Fletcher’s on Lake Minnetonka, summer is the money season. As they get the inside ready, the patio has been open for limited seating — 25% capacity or 250 people. Tables are six feet apart and hand sanitizer is everywhere.

“For most patios it’s pretty good, 250. For us, we are the size of a football field with capacity near 1,000,” said Lord Fletcher’s General Manager Tom Emer.

The restaurant will be closed Tuesday so they can clean. When they open on Wednesday, returning customers will notice another change.

Instead of traditional menus outside, Fletcher’s customers will get a digital menu. They put their camera phone over the top of a sticker labeled on each table and hit a button, then a new menu pops up to order from.

“It’s a start, hopefully, eventually we will be fully open,” Emer said.

Across the lake at Hazellewood Grill and Tap Room, employees were getting up to speed on their changes.

“All of our staff will be in masks and gloves 100% of the time. Changing them as frequently as we need to,” said Alex Lewer of Hazellewood Grill and Tap Room.

Customers are also encouraged to wear masks when they aren’t eating. The dining experience will be different with single use salt and pepper, and ketchup packets you typically see at fast food restaurants. They are also taking reservations so they know exactly how many menus they have to print every day.

“It’s good to see regulars back. It’s good to see staff back,” Lewer said.

Hazellewood furloughed about 90% of their employees in March, but they say they were able to bring just about everybody back.

RELATED: Gov. Tim Walz Says State Can Turn Dial Again, To Allow Indoor Dining, Limited Gym Use

John Lauritsen

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