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Collier County restaurants happy for 50% capacity, Phase 2 of reopening

We looked into the restaurant scene in Collier County, since businesses were given the green light to operate at 50% capacity. This has been welcome news to many hurting business owners and their employees, especially good news for Collier County, which bills itself as a food destination.

We visited Vanderbilt Beach Friday, and spoke to the restaurant about further precautions they might implement with the ability to increase capacity at restaurants during Phase 2.

“The importance of Bar Tulia is obviously to be close to people,” said Vincenzo Betulia, the restaurant’s owner. “It’s a place where people come to congregate and be with their friends”

Betulia says a cozy atmosphere is slowly returning inside his restaurant while still keeping tables 6-feet apart.

”We actually rented the parking lot here and bring the drinks outside,” Betulia said.

And, now that restaurants allow 50% capacity, businesses such as Bar Tulia and The Turtle Club Restaurant will both bring back more workers, as they serve up more food and drinks again.

“Phase two definitely helps,” said Curtis McCreary, the general manager of the Turtle Club. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

Restaurants say allowing people to sit at the bar will make a big difference.

”I have people that come to my restaurant four or five times a week that sit just at the bar to have that interaction,” Betulia said. “It makes me happy that those people are going to come back.”

That includes people from right down the street or customers from parts of the east coast, where businesses haven’t moved into Phase 2 yet.

“We don’t want to see a spike again,” McCreary said. “We feel more comfortable in these phases, so, hopefully, things still keep going down in numbers instead of going up. That’s what’s most important is we get to the next phase.”

Restaurants we spoke to remain cautious.

“We sanitize all the menus,” Betulia said.

“All front of the house employees have to wear masks” McCreary said.

And restaurants are doing what they must to recover.

”We’ve lost nearly two months of our season,” Betulia said. “We’re here to provide a little bit of normalcy within our communities”

”Now, we have a lot to gain,” McCreary said. “We’ve been in this beautiful place for years, and we plan on being here.”

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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