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Fort Myers restaurants talk plans for reopening: Is 25% capacity worth it?

Florida is getting ready to reopen its doors after the governor announced restaurants and retail stores can reopen at 25% capacity. But is that enough for local businesses to make a comeback?

We made a lot of calls to restaurants on Thursday and a good number of owners and managers said 25% capacity is not enough to reopen.

But that’s not the case for one Fort Myers restaurant, already starting preparations and guaranteeing each party will be six feet apart from each other, with safety as their top priority.

The phones at Citrola’s on College Parkway are already ringing with people calling to make reservations.

Owner Robin Gorry says the restaurant’s hung on these last several weeks thanks to a steady stream of pick up and delivery orders.

“We went from full capacity, packed, in the bulk of our season, to absolutely nothing in the dining room,” Gorry said.

But now that they’re able to open at 25% capacity, she says, “First thing this morning somebody called said, ‘Are you opening Monday?’ and we said, ‘We sure are!'”

Open, but with some changes.

“We’re going to have them wear masks,” Gorry said. “We have hand sanitizer in different, various locations at the restaurant, everyone will be wearing gloves, including our servers.”

The same goes for the Boat House in Fort Myers, part of the Kern Restaurant Group, which plans to open next Friday.

Daniel Kern says he had the pleasure of calling his managers back to work, “and they are now employed as of today, so they’re now calling all of our employees to build that roster and to see who’s willing and ready to come back to work.”

Gorry says she’s looking forward to Monday because some dining room customers are better than none.

“It’s a family run business, so we’re going to handle it as best we can,” she said.

It’s good news for the little guys and for the major chains. Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Cheddars and Chilis all plan to open Monday.

As for retail stores, they’re much harder to get a handle on. Our best suggestion: don’t assume a store that was closed will reopen and call ahead.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Briana Harvath
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