Brian Chilson

The Root Cafe announced on Facebook and Instagram yesterday that it will be closing its dining room in response to the rise in COVID-19 cases brought on by the more contagious delta variant. The Root only just opened for indoor dining on July 10, nearly 15 months after the mandated shut down in March of 2020. The Root will continue to be open for outdoor dining, serving customers on its patio and in the adjacent courtyard.

The pandemic has been especially cruel to the restaurant industry, largely because restaurants have dealt with capacity limitations and had to enforce a mask policy for customers that ended as soon as drinks arrived at the table. It’s one of the only industries that had to face crowds of the unmasked during the mask mandate, which ended on March 30 of this year. In addition to the mandated directives and CDC guidelines, many restaurants were still forced to close due to staff outbreaks and exposures. Some more than once. As the COVID-19 numbers started going down this spring as vaccines became widely available, a sense of normalcy started to emerge and we began to relax. We could actually see servers’ and bartenders’ faces again. Restaurants that had been holding out on indoor dining like The Root and @ The Corner finally opened up. And then the delta variant emerged.


For restaurants like the Root deciding to take a step back comes at the expense of the bottom line, but also at the expense of progress after an already brutal year.

Whatever your favorite spots decide to do in the coming weeks, please be respectful and abide by their rules. We can get through this if we try. Here’s a list of vaccine clinics for Arkansans 12 and older who still need a shot.


Here’s The Root’s Facebook post:

Hey, y’all! We love how normal it feels to see you all in-person again! However, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Arkansas due to the Delta variant and our state’s high percentage of unvaccinated individuals. Because of the surge in cases we will be closing our indoor dining room effective Thursday morning, July 22nd. In the meantime, we’re happy to serve you at our patio and courtyard tables!
We want to formally encourage everyone to take the opportunity to get vaccinated!
Our highest priority is the health and safety of our guests and crew, and higher vaccination rates in our state will help us fight back against COVID-19. The best thing that can happen for Arkansas’s economy is fewer COVID cases in our communities. Help small businesses in Arkansas by wearing your mask and getting your vaccine!