South Carolina restaurants reopen at own pace, some decide to wait

South Carolina restaurants reopen at own pace, some decide to wait

FORT MILL, S.C. — Steve Mantekas has owned Captain Steve's Family Seafood in Fort Mill for almost 25 years and like most businesses, nothing prepared him for the coronavirus, and the sweeping changes made in its wake.

"At first, we were kind of scared to tell ya the truth, because we didn't know what to expect," he said.

He closed the popular restaurant in March, had to lay off half his staff of 60 people and has survived on a solid take-out business.

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Since mid-March, restaurants in South Carolina were now allowed to seat customers inside.

Mantekas said he sat down with his wife to talk about reopening, and they decided to not do that yet. He said there's too much concern about the virus. Capt. Steve’s seats 500 people, and he said it's not practical to open at 50% capacity.

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“How you gonna handle that situation? You’re gonna turn people away. People will be getting upset. At least now, they come and place their order, pick it up and they go home and enjoy their meal,” he said.

He said he will stick with take-out and keep the dining room closed until further notice.

The Pump House on the Catawba River in Rock Hill is taking a different approach.

General Manager Chris Johnson said he will reopen The Pump House Wednesday night.

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He said it’s clear that his customers are ready to come back.

By Tuesday afternoon, they'd already booked 80 reservations.

The tables are spaced out at least six feet. They removed half of the tables in the entire restaurant, and they’re also changing the way they let people in to wait to be seated.

Customers happy to get back inside South Carolina restaurants

"From our perspective, if I don't have a chair to put you into, I'm not going to let you into the building," Johnson said.

Many restaurants will reopen in the next few days once they’ve trained staff on the new procedures and changes.

Johnson wants guests to feel comfortable and safe. He said servers will wear masks, and sanitizer will be available.

They’ve discussed requiring workers to wear gloves, but they’d be using and throwing away hundreds of pairs every night. Johnson is trying to focus on maintaining good customer service, providing a personal experience and putting safety first.

“I’m excited to be getting back to some sense of normalcy but also a little bit nervous about how it’s all gonna unfold,” he said.