First San Francisco Bay Area Restaurant Reopens for Dine-In

May 22, 2020 Updated: May 24, 2020

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—California recently released new guidelines for restaurants to follow when opening for dine-in as part of the state’s reopening process. One restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area will be the first in the area to reopen for customers to sit in for a meal.

Tarla Mediterranean Bar and Grill in Napa County announced it will have dine-in service again starting May 23. They will follow all the guidelines to sanitize and keep everyone safe.

Yusuf Topal, owner of Tarla, told The Epoch Times that they are following the new regulations.

“We have to be taking in all the contact information for all guests dining at the restaurant. If you have a party, for example, a party of four, we’re going to collect the contact information from everyone,” he said.

This is to ensure that they can let the patrons know if they were in contact with anyone sick while dining.

On May 12, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a list of guidelines for restaurants to follow if they decide to let their customers sit down for a meal. Restaurants may open to customers for seating, but there are many health protocols to follow.

Topal said his restaurant will take each person’s temperature when they come in, including both employees and customers. Topal said they have hand sanitizers all over the restaurant and will make sure there is six feet of distance between tables and between customers. They will also provide one-time-use menus and stop pre-setting tables.

“We are very excited. We have to be opening,” said Topal. “We cannot stay closed. We have rent and laborers to pay, and employees that have to feed their families.”

The restaurant worked with county officials to push for reopening sooner, since there are fewer COVID-19 cases and deaths. As of May 20, Napa County has 92 confirmed cases and 3 deaths.

Other Bay Area Restaurants

Ken Spilfogel is the owner of Village Corner California Bistro and is on the restaurant committee board of directors for the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea. He told The Epoch Times that they are working to open outdoor dining into the streets where parking spaces are.

“As a community, we’re working on doing parklets for individual restaurants, and community dining by closing streets down,” said Spilfogel.

Restaurant by restaurant, they are getting approval from their city manager and mayor. Speaking for all the restaurants, he honestly does not know how soon the changes will happen, but they are getting ready, and they have been approved to develop the outside for potential customers.

“We have a lot of hope that in the next week or two, that the PPP, which is the loan situation by the Feds, will give us more time to spread the money out,” said Spilfogel.

Some restaurant owners are waiting on reopening until they get a clearer answer.

Tony Farah, owner of Cafe Verde Pizzeria & Ristorante in Corte Madera, says he feels confused, since the rules seem to change daily.

“That regulation is not easy, and every day they change it, and so I need to wait,” said Farah.

He has outdoor seating, but half of it is considered to be the city’s, so it is still closed.

“That’s why I don’t know what’s going on. Nobody knows what’s going on right now,” he said.

Restaurants in areas with higher numbers of COVID-19 cases, like Santa Clara County, are more cautious about reopening.

Angelina Ramos, director of operations at Luna Mexican Kitchen in San Jose, told The Epoch Times that they will not reopen until they feel 100 percent prepared to keep their staff and guests safe.

“Going through this information, it’s 12 pages, and there are other checklists. There’s info from the CDC. There’s of course this [new set of dine-in guidelines] from the governor, then Santa Clara County has some information. I’m just basically poring over all that information and making sure that we don’t miss anything,” said Ramos.

She does not feel overwhelmed with the list of guidelines and believes they are necessary.

“Since the day we closed, I’ve been researching and planning for this,” said Ramos. “So it’s nice to have the guidelines now. These are all the things that we were thinking about.”

She also said they are planning to train employees through presentations, role-playing, and practicing scenarios.

“We’d rather wait a little bit longer and make sure that we’re ready, than make a mistake and open too soon, and just to close down again,” she said.