On April 29, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that Arkansas restaurants could move forward with a partial reopening of dine-in services on May 11.
Although some restaurant owners in The Natural State have announced that they will keep their shop doors shut for the time being, many are incorporating table service back into their businesses.
AY About You spoke with two Arkansas-native restaurants about getting into the groove of regulated-servicing and managing dine-in traffic.
Anna and Sam Russell are the owners of The Buttered Biscuit in Northwest Arkansas. With the success of their first breakfast spot in Bentonville, the couple has since expanded The Buttered Biscuit into a second Bentonville location and a place in Springdale.
The Russell family remains dedicated to serving customers their signature healthy-but-homey style cooking amidst COVID-19. On Monday, all three of The Buttered Biscuit locations opened back up for dine-in services.
“If Walmart is open, we are open,” says Anna Russell.
With the restaurant’s reduced capacity regulation, a customer will notice that over half the restaurant is empty, said Russell.
Although the limited-capacity seating is an unusual sight for the regularly busy spot, The Buttered Biscuit’s dedication to keeping customers of all ages happy and healthy has yet to change.
The Buttered Biscuit instated an early-bird “senior hour” for the restaurant’s older crowd. From 7-8 a.m., all dine-in customers are required to wear masks inside the restaurant.
As for table service traffic, Russell is pleasantly surprised at the physical turnout.
“It has been positive,” says Russell.
Nevertheless, Anna wonders if the turnout is here to stay. “It is new excitement? Or is it something stable?”
Approximately 300 miles downstate in McGehee, Hoots BBQ & Steaks owner Susie Powell is feeling optimistic despite slow dine-in customer traffic.
Co-founded in 2012 with Powell’s late husband, David, Hoots BBQ & Steaks is a favorite among L.A .(lower Arkansas) locals.
“We’ve had great local support,” says Powell. “People are going to get back out, it’ll just take time.”
Although people are still apprehensive about coming indoors, Hoots BBQ & Steaks take-out services have yet to slow down. Customers can call ahead to Hoots BBQ & Steaks to make a reservation for dinner, but lunch services are take-out only.