KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Michigan relaxed COVID-19 restrictions at bars and restaurants across the state on June 1, 2021.
The capacity limits for outdoor seating were completely lifted. Indoor dining capacity limits were still capped at 50% until July 1, and there was no longer a curfew for bars and restaurants.
Michael Ollinger, the assistant general manager of 600 Kitchen & Bar in Kalamazoo, said it was nice to see business pick back up again.
“We’re looking forward to more people coming out," Ollinger said.
He said 50% capacity means about 45 more people could dine indoors. Outside, where there are no capacity limits, they have an additional 13 tables.
With the curfew lifted restaurant could stay open longer, Ollinger said they can serve more customers.
“The extended hours means more business for us," he said. "People are coming out later these days. The dinner rush used to be 5 or 6 o'clock, now it's at 7 or 7:30.”
Ollinger said one challenge many bars and restaurants faced was hiring enough staff to increase capacity and extend hours.
“Hiring at this time is difficult because a lot of people are fishing from the same market so there’s a lot of restaurants reopening, as occupancy goes up everyone needs the same staff," he said.
Ollinger said he was looking to hire more servers, but they would be able to maintain increase capacity and extended hours.
Other businesses in West Michigan are not as lucky.
Central City Tap House posted a message on there answering machine that said, “We will unfortunately be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for both lunch and dinner for the foreseeable future as we build our staffing levels.”
Hop Cat in Kalamazoo also said it would be reducing hours the week of June 1 and offering a $500 bonus to attract new employees.
The Congregation in South Haven posted a message on social media, that said they have to close their doors due to a labor shortage.
Michigan started requiring people on unemployment to prove they are searching for work as of May 30. Employers said they hoped the reinstatement would help bring more people back to the workforce.
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