Indiana is getting the jump on its neighbors, Ohio and Kentucky, when it comes to reopening restaurants. That’s good news for Steve Van Wassenhove.
“We miss the day to day,” said Van Wassenhove, owner of Willie’s Sports Café at Hidden Valley Lake. “It’s been extremely challenging at times, but extremely uplifting at times.”
Van Wassenhove said he and his staff didn’t expect to be back on the job so soon, getting ready for a May 11 reopening after Gov. Eric Holcomb gave the OK, even though they're limited to 50% capacity.
“We’ve heard from our customers. That’s what they want. They want to be back here, back to normal,” Van Wassenhove said.
“We want to make sure that everyone that comes here feels as safe as possible and we’re doing everything under the guidelines we can to reopen.”
That means setting tables and chairs a bit further apart.
“We’ve set up a floor plan to allow social distancing and allow our customers to be as safe as possible,” Van Wassenhove said.
Holcomb’s announcement came as a surprise, Van Wassenhove said.
“We were assuming right away we’d be closer to June. Our plans have always been to reopen as soon as we can to get our folks back in here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Anna Gabbard was wearing an Indiana hat and an Ohio hoodie at the coffee shop she manages in Harrison, Ohio. The Coffee Peddlar is just a stone’s throw across the state line.
“Probably 30 feet,” Gabbard said. “You walk out the doors, and you’re right there.”
Gabbard said she’s happy to see Indiana’s restaurants coming back, even while her coffee shop is on hold.
“It probably means it’s coming for us. That’s a positive thing,” Gabbard said. “We’re looking forward to when we can have people sitting here again. Love on people.”
Gabbard said her customers have been supportive.
“To see the community and how they come together, they always do. It’s never a shock,” she said. “People always rise up and say, ‘How can we help?’”
She’s hopeful that Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will follow suit soon.
“I’m OK with him saying let’s put pause on it for another four weeks,” Gabbard said. “It’s not fun because we’d love to have people be 6 feet apart from everybody.”