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Opolis to temporarily close for renovations; seeks to incorporate new 'pandemic-friendly' layout

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The Opolis

The Opolis on April 23, 2020.

Opolis, a local vegan restaurant, micro music venue and Norman staple, will be closed until early summer for renovations.

Andy Nuñez, owner and operator of Opolis with his family, said the renovations are all focused around social distancing, improved ventilation and general COVID-19 safety. It first closed April 4.

“I think (the pandemic) is gonna trip for a while, so we have to learn how to live with it,” Nuñez said.

The original layout of Opolis did not allow for any social distancing, Nuñez said. There had been an issue with “bottlenecking” near the bar and the front of the stage before the pandemic began. The rise of social distancing measures just made those issues more prominent, he said.

“Our whole business model is about people being close to each other,” Nuñez said. “It’s completely not pandemic-friendly.”

Among the alterations, the business will be adding a takeout window for curbside food pickup and moving the bar to the opposite side of the building for better access.

“Since the pandemic began, the food side of business is busier than it’s ever been,” Nuñez said. 

Nuñez and his family have been preparing to start renovations for a few months, he said. After watching how other businesses have been opening, Nuñez knew he wanted to do it differently.

“I see how these businesses on Campus Corner are opening up,” Nuñez said. “I can’t believe the city is letting them get away with this.”

Nuñez said the renovations are partially funded by grants given to small businesses across Norman and surrounding areas.

“The grants have kept us going,” Nuñez  said.

The current plan is to reopen in the early summer months, but the business is keeping the schedule loose in case new challenges pop up, Nuñez said.

“Everyone’s been (thrown) for a loop,” Nuñez said. “We’re in unknown territory. We have all these hoops to jump through, but we’re going to go as fast as we can.”

Opolis already has some tentative band lineups, most likely local or small touring groups, for the fall with more being planned each day, Nuñez said. 

“We’re only going to bring in stuff that we really like a lot,” Nuñez said. “Stuff that we think the community will really like.”

The family running Opolis hopes that as Oklahoma continues to vaccinate more communities, it will be safer to open up, Nuñez said.

“I’m ready for us to move on,” Nuñez said. “I’m hoping people will start feeling some kind of hesitant normalcy.”

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