As the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Arkansas continue to rise due to the more infectious delta variant, several local restaurants have responded, once again, with social media posts, signage and action to try to protect staff and customers.
During the first few weeks of the surge, it looked like business as usual — highly infectious disease spreading out of control and people still behaving as if we’d defeated COVID-19 in the state. And to be fair, before the surge, it was starting to look that way. Cases were going down, everyone that wanted a vaccine (all one-third of us) could get one, the CDC said vaccinated people could ditch the masks. So, many of us did.
We started to relax. We’d earned it. Waiters’ faces became visible, many of us that had been avoiding indoor dining were starting to eat out again, restaurants that had been holding out on indoor dining for almost a year and a half opened their doors to the public. And then the delta variant emerged, and we were collectively in limbo. Last week on July 27, the CDC revised its guidance and recommended indoor masking for people who have received a vaccine. Some restaurants had started taking extra precaution before the new guidance was issued. On July 23, The Root Cafe closed its dining room mere weeks after finally reopening following nearly 15 months of exclusive outdoor service and take out.
On July 17, Trio’s Restaurant posted to Facebook:
Our staff is masked up. We welcome you to dine in, but you need to wear a mask. We will provide one for you if you have forgotten yours. We take the surge very, very seriously. Please do the same.
Last week, Trio’s delivered 80 meals to Arkansas Children’s Hospital frontline health care workers as part of its “Healthcare Hero Meals” program. If you or your business would like to donate Trio’s meals to area hospitals, go to the restaurant’s website and select online ordering. Each meal is $10 with tax included.
On July 14, Bruno’s Little Italy made a Facebook post encouraging people to get vaccinated.
Ten days later, on July 31, Bruno’s announced that it would temporarily close because a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Bruno’s said that it would reopen after a cleaning and staff tests returned negative. Check Bruno’s Facebook page for updates about its reopening.
As Max Brantley reported last week, The Clinton Presidential Center is closing but 42 Bar and Table, located on the bottom floor of the Clinton Center, will remain open. However, the restaurant will be requiring proof of vaccination before entry (“physical vaccination card or photograph thereof”). Reservations will be required and can be made online or by calling 501-537-0042.
Stephanie Smittle reported last week that White Water Tavern will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test when it reopens this Friday with its first show since March of 2020. Tickets for upcoming shows can be purchased here.
Damgoode Pies‘ Hillcrest location was closed on Saturday due to an “internal staff infection, be back ASAP,” the sign on the door read. There’s a large “mask required for entry” sign on the door of the location on Cantrell.
Gallery 26 isn’t a restaurant but it did have this simple sign on the door.
On July 17, Loca Luna shared a COVID-19 update on its Facebook page:
We are not only concerned about the safety of our patrons but that of our staff, as well. All members of our staff are fully vaccinated and are back in the practice of wearing masks. We would appreciate it if any guests who are not fully vaccinated would wear masks until seated at their table. Thanks for doing your part!
Jerry Barakat, owner of Arthur’s Prime Steakhouse and Ocean’s at Arthur’s made the following Facebook post on Thursday of last week:
DUE TO THE SURGE OF COVID-19 AND THE DELTA VARIANT INFECTION IN OUR CITY AND STATE WE WILL BE REQUIRING MASKS AS OF TOMORROW FRIDAY JULY 30TH TO DINE AT BOTH RESTAURANTS ARTHUR’S AND OCEAN’S.WE TOOK EVERY MEASURE POSSIBLE AND AVAILABLE DURING THE PANDEMIC TO KEEP OUR FRIENDS, CUSTOMERS AND STAFF AS SAFE, HEALTHY, AND PROTECTED AS BEST AS ANYWHERE IN THE NATION. WE INTEND TO KEEP IT THIS WAY.WE AS USUAL APPRECIATE YOUR UNDERSTANDING AND CONTINUED SUPPORT!
Scott McGehee of the Yellow Rocket Concepts restaurant group that owns Big Orange, Local Lime, Heights Taco & Tamale, Lost 40 and ZaZa delivered a slew of heirloom tomato caprese salads from Big Orange to the E4 COVID unit at UAMS last week.
Star of India is still requiring masks as it stated on its Facebook page last Thursday:
Due to the increased number of COVID-19 and delta variant cases, we still require our customers and employees to wear masks. Safety is the utmost priority of our employees, patrons and community. So we ask that you please wear your masks until you are served with drinks and when you get up to use the restrooms or pay.Also, please be patient with us as we work on an opening date for the lunch buffet. We are continuously monitoring the situation, and Arkansas is currently a hotspot with many cases; we are evaluating our decision on the opening date.We will continue to offer lunch specials, family meal packs (TO-GO ONLY), carryout, delivery with all of our partners, and the regular menu.Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, and Stay Blessed
Cheers!Sami and Team
@ The Corner announced on Friday that it raised over $2,500 worth of donations for its Cinnamon Roll it Forward campaign. The campaign started at the beginning of the pandemic as a way for customers to both support @ The Corner and frontline health care workers. From @ The Corner’s Facebook:
To share love & support as well, donate $5 to our Venmo @thecornerlr AND tag your healthcare hero below! We will donate a cinnamon roll with every tag! Also, please DM us if you know a hospital unit that could really use some Cinnamon Roll love. We’ve had requests to go to our neighboring cities too so please reach out if you know a hospital!
One thing we all can do to support our local restaurants at this time is go ahead and mask up regardless of whether anyone asks you to or not. Order takeout. Tip well. Thank your local waiter or bartender or food delivery person. The job has never been easy, and it’s especially hard right now.