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Restaurant coalition pushing to ease dining restrictions in Anne Arundel County

Posted at 5:04 PM, Jan 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 18:14:24-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — There’s an ongoing battle in Anne Arundel County between restaurant owners struggling to stay afloat and the County Executive trying to keep people safe.

The executive order keeping restaurants at 25 percent capacity was in court and upheld last week.

“25 percent for us it’s based on your capacity so for us it’s about 38 people,” said Lisa Bolter. “Up until recently that included staff as well. You can imagine in a space like this it’s a good size, it’s every other table and our tables are already spaced about six feet so.”

Bolter is the owner of Red Red Wine in Annapolis.

She said an increase to 50 percent would do a lot to get them back to where they need to be to turn a profit again.

“We’ve had to cut the staff in half a lot of them didn’t come back after the shutdown,” said Bolter. “Of course as we’ve lost people we just haven’t replaced them because we really don’t have the need for it at 25 percent. I used to have six to seven servers on the floor and that was high pace and rolling. Now I have three servers on the floor and that’s to make sure they can make some money.”

On Wednesday The Maryland Resaurant Coalition was putting boots to pavement.

Asking restaurants to join them in their fight for 50 percent capacity and to push closing time from 10 p.m. to midnight.

“With 25 percent for most restaurants that doesn’t do a lot for restaurants,” said Jackie Carlton. “50 percent really helps the staff the employees because those are the ones who have to pay their bills so they able to get more tables, seat more people. At 50% the restaurant can take in honestly more income, so that helps them a huge amount with that.”

County Executive Stuert Pittman said they want to get to 100 percent but it’s not quite the time yet.

He said when science changes and the vaccinations come in the thresholds change.

“There’s also this new strain that we don’t know what that’s going to do,” said Pittman. “The good news is we seem to have gotten through the holiday bump. We were up to close to 60 cases per 100,000 new cases a day and now we’re back down in the 40’s which is still very high. We actually project that our hospitalizations which is the factor we are most concerned about will drop in early February. So we’re talking just a couple more weeks.”

Pittman also said that restaurant workers are the top priority for the $650 debit cards being given out along with the federal assistance being offered.

If you’re a restaurant owner and want to learn more about the Maryland Restaurant Coalition click here.