Rebound Idaho: Restaurant owners hope to regain lost revenue with Saturday reopening date

Posted at 8:35 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 00:19:12-04

IDAHO — Idaho restaurant owners are learning to walk the tightrope between protecting people’s safety and protecting their revenue -- all while some consumers mull over concerns of their own.

But in order to reopen Saturday, Idaho’s restaurant owners had to submit a safety plan for approval by local health districts.

"I was pretty surprised that they even got back to us so quickly," said Maria Salgado, franchise co-owner of four local Qdoba restaurants.

One local franchise owner is sharing her own experience with that process.

“We got an email from the Central District Health Department," said Salgado.

She is reopening her four dining rooms on Saturday.

She said the terms of the application were pretty straightforward.

“It has a checkbox next to each one, just kind of stating, 'Do you agree that you will take do proper sanitation, you will keep capacity at each of your restaurants to a 50 percent capacity,'" said Salgado.

She said some boxes were a little more disheartening to have to check than others — after having lost 70% of their revenue when the stay-at-home order was put in place.

"Agreeing to the 50% capacity was another thing we were kind of like, 'Ugh,' ya know? Finally we were able to open, and possibly gain back our lost revenue, but ya know, if it’s what we have to do in order to open, we’re willing to work with the department of health.”

Salgado said she’s grateful to be able to spend more time with her customers again, especially her regulars.

“I’m excited to see all of them."

So how does Central District Health, for example, plan to ensure protocols are being followed? Like the governor, they’re mostly trusting owners will stick to their agreements.

“We are not planning on inspecting food establishments specifically pertaining to their reopening, however, when your inspection comes up, once a year usually, an inspector may address your reopening plan with you," said Natasha Ferney, program manager, Central District Health.

But while the state is using terminology like “guidance” for these protocols, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean signed public health orders Thursday requiring Boise businesses follow safety protocols outlined by the state — punishable by misdemeanor should a situation warrant.

A spokesperson for the city Boise said they are working on plans to launch an Economic Recovery Task Force at City Hall, with information on measures to help restaurants maximize space for social distancing.

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