Charlie’s on Main has remained closed, continuing to offer curbside pickup services and online ordering even as the county enters into Phase 2 of the Forward Dane reopening plan.
The reason for this, owner and chef Dave Heide told the Observer, is because COVID-19 is still, quite obviously, a pandemic. He cited news coverage stating COVID-19 is surging in states amid reopening plans like Florida, California and Arizona. He acknowledged if more people were taking recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization “seriously” — wearing masks in public for example — the Charlie’s on Main indoor space would be open.
“I don’t feel safe having (customers) in my building right now,” Heide said.
His decision to not offer dine-in services comes even as many businesses are working up to operating at 50% capacity as outlined in Phase 2 of the plan, which began Monday, June 15. Some include Firefly Coffeehouse and Artisan Cheese, Oregon Floral and the Maitri Center for Mindful Living.
Phase 2 also allows playgrounds and splash pads to open, with indoor gatherings allowed at 50 or fewer, and outdoor at 100 or fewer. The county’s decision to move into Phase 2 came from analyzing two weeks of health data and comparing it to nine health benchmarks, including epidemiology criteria counting the number and percentage of COVID-19 cases.
According to Public Health Madison and Dane County, since May 21, the county has seen its average number of daily new cases increase from eight to 16.
Still, the Firefly, Oregon Floral and Maitri Center for Mindful Living have opened or are gradually opening indoor spaces, with social distancing protocols and strict sanitation measures.
Firefly revitalized its lobby for in-person ordering and dine-in services Tuesday, June 16. And the coffeehouse is back to regular summer hours this week, from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
“If you prefer not to enter just yet, we are taking no-contact orders very seriously,” a June 13 Firefly Facebook post states. “Just use our online ordering app … We’ll have our back door open and you can pick up your order right outside on a special table.”
The coffeehouse’s interior has tables placed six feet apart and x’s marked by tape signaling where customers should stand should they line up behind the register to order. Baristas wear face masks and sanitize regularly.
Oregon Floral has seen its flower orders for funerals and weddings increase, owner Sarah Lopez told the Observer, though some cancellations of both events continue to trickle in as COVID-19 carries on.
She said opening her storefront again doesn’t reflect much of a difference from before the pandemic — it still sees 3-4 customers at a time and continues to offer online ordering and delivery services. Lopez said she and her other two staff members wear masks and ask that customers do as well.
The shop has hand sanitizer by its entrances and isn’t having customers sign anything if they pay with credit cards. Every pen, door and item customers touched is cleaned as well.
The Maitri Center for Mindful Living is slowly opening up its Main Street indoor space for mindfulness sessions again, owner Kelly Petrie told the Observer.
“These sessions will be scheduled so there is enough time between clients, allowing for surfaces to be wiped down in between,” Petrie said. “I ask that clients bring their own mats or cushions and leave personal items in the car. I am requiring masks to be worn at all times unless our feet are on a mat, which are spaced at least six feet apart.”
As for Charlie’s on Main, not opening its indoor space has caused the restaurant’s finances to suffer, Heide said.
The business used to make $4,000 in sales on a Friday night, whereas now it only makes around $1,500. Despite the dip in sales, the restaurant’s indoor space continues to serve as a distribution center for community meals and local farm kits to food insecure families and individuals.
Heide said as a business owner, it’s “financially smart” to open. But as a human being, he feels he has to do everything he can to prevent others from falling ill to COVID-19.
“I will sleep better at night knowing I did the right thing,” Heide said.