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Norman amid coronavirus: Local restaurants adjust to gradual reopening, increased sanitary measures

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Campus Corner

Campus Corner during the first day of online classes after Spring Break on March 23.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Norman restaurants manage to maintain business and close relationships with their customers. 

Phase 1A of Norman’s Healthier at Home plan, which began May 1, allowed dining areas of restaurants to open. Throughout May, establishments began the transition from strictly curbside pick-up or takeout to dine-in. 

Norman’s Hideaway Pizza reopened its doors May 25, authorizing social distance seating of 50 percent capacity, according to its website. By spacing out tables and implementing sanitation measures, Hideaway hopes to provide a safe place to eat, Hideaway Manager Jayce Moore said. 

“We have tables spaced out accordingly, sanitation checks every 30 minutes and everyone’s wearing gloves … issued by the company,” Moore said. “We’re just trying to keep everything clean and orderly.” 

Restaurants like Hideaway — in the heart of Campus corner — were not built for curbside pickup. The transition to in-person dining was significant, Moore said.

“It’s been challenging figuring out ways to keep curbside streamlined, quick and efficient,” Moore said. “But servers … have learned to adjust and are now back to serving tables.” 

Other restaurants like The Mont, however, have transitioned services differently. The Mont reopened its patio seating May 19 for reservation-only and plans to reopen the inside on June 1, The Mont’s General Manager Patrick Kallin said. 

To maintain a safe environment, The Mont staggers lines of people in their waiting area, requires staff to wear masks and gloves and permits only one person in each bathroom at a time. The only issue staff ran into was finding a vendor that sold hand sanitizing stations, Kallin said. 

“It’s been a little different with reservation-only seating as we normally have a big line out front with people waiting up to an hour … for a table,” Kallin said. “Now … people walk up and we’re able to take them right to their table, and it’s nice, clean, and ready for them to go.” 

As Norman enters Phases 2 and 3 of the Healthier at Home plan, restaurants like The Mont and Hideaway plan to continue opening their doors to customers, at a safe and gradual rate, Kallin said. 

“We plan on staying at the limited number of tables for a while, both inside and out,” Kallin said. “We’ll just see how everything goes and if the numbers start to drop … we’ll open a few more tables. We just want to make sure our city feels safe about having more people in the restaurant.” 

Returning to limited dine-in seating at community staples like The Mont has allowed for a welcome return to normalcy within the Norman community, Kallin said. He hopes restaurants will continue to be cautious as they reopen. 

“Providing some sort of regularity in a changing time can be good,” Moore said. “We hope having us as an option to get food … can be beneficial for the mental health of the Norman community.” 

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