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Bar owners ready to open their doors

By Staff | Jun 4, 2020

With Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement of Phase 2 of his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step” plan going into effect today, bars around Cape Coral and the majority of the state can once again welcome patrons into their establishments.

Local bar owners are thrilled to return to work after months of being either completely closed or limited to take-out food orders.

Bars will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity inside and at full capacity in outdoor areas with social distancing and seated service, the governor said.

“In our Phase 2, we will be going with bars being able to operate with diminished standing-room occupancy,” DeSantis said. “You’re seated to get served.”

Local taprooms, pubs, alehouses, taverns and watering holes will also be held to elevated sanitation standards.

Dixie Roadhouse, one of the Cape’s most popular and largest bars, is pleased to once again open their doors and be able to welcome locals for nights of line dancing and good times.

“We feel great. We’re really excited,” said David Townsend, marketing director at The Dixie. “It was no fun being closed. There’s certain guidelines that are spelled out in the governor’s order we’ll have to follow, which is no problem. We’re just happy to be open again.”

Townsend said staff has been briefed on vigilant sanitary practices, such as wiping down all surfaces throughout the entire evening, as well as before and after shifts.

Masks and gloves are optional to the staff and the customer.

The Dixie is happy to return just about every one of their 45 staff members back to work.

“It’s awesome (to have them back),” Townsend said. “It was pretty painful having to furlough all those people. All that wanted to come back are back.”

Dixie Roadhouse is quite different from other local bars in the area simply due to its size. At 50% capacity, The Dixie can still hold over 500 people inside. Townsend said on a usual night, pre-pandemic, that would be around the usual number of patrons. He said the venue would only get to capacity when they were having a concert — something they will not be hosting in the immediate future.

“It will still be a party,” Townsend said.

Another popular Cape Coral spot to catch a pint, The Dek, will now be able to expand upon its services. They had been operating in a small capacity with take out and some indoor seating last week. Now, they can get back to what they do best.

“We’re pretty excited,” said owner Betty Davis.

Davis feels their “soft opening” of sorts last week gave her and her staff a leg-up when it comes to sanitary practices and ensuring they are following social distancing standards.

“We got in the groove of that last week, so it will be a lot easier when we add the bar seating.”

They were unable to utilize their outdoor area prior to Phase 2, as it is all bar seating. Now, they will be able to utilize their space more efficiently and return patrons in a greater number.

“We’re going to put groups apart from each other,” Davis said. “We only have the amount of chairs in here we’re allowed to have that way we can regulate.”

Her staff is equipped with plenty of gloves, hand sanitizer and sanitizer solution. Davis said staff has also been properly trained on the appropriate amount of time to use gloves and when to throw them away to avoid cross-contamination.

The last few months have been tough financially for nearly every local business, including The Dek.

Davis said Phase 2 will certainly help get operations going again at a higher pace, which are much needed.

“It’s been rough. We did a few to-go events, but you can’t sustain on carryout. It’s not worth being open,” Davis said. “So we’re really psyched about (Phase 2). A lot of our customers didn’t want to come until we were allowed to be fully open as a bar.”

The Dek will be open until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Friday they will have bingo and on Saturday trivia.

The “O” Bar in Cape Coral has been closed for nearly three months and is ecstatic to welcome back its regulars who enjoy playing darts and belting some karaoke.

“We’re all excited here,” said “O” Bar General Manager Vicki Jo Milbrodt. “We’re looking forward to seeing everybody, all of the smiling faces and getting back to normal.”

To stay within guidelines, The “O” Bar has reduced seating at the bar by 50% and have spaced out its bar stools. They will also give every patron to the bar their own sanitizer wipes if they would like to take extra precaution.

Surfaces will constantly be wiped down and plastic cups will replace most glassware. Paper menus will also be distributed and thrown away after each guest is done.

“We didn’t really leave any place for everybody to sit next to each other, we limited that here,” Milbrodt said.

They will not offer drafts to start, to help reduce with glassware use.

“Anything we can do to make it better for the customer, we will,” she said.

All but one staff member has returned back to work. Milbrodt said Phase 2 is much needed after months of financial peril due to coronavirus.

“If we don’t get back to business, we’d be forced to shut down,” Milbrodt said. “It’s been a very real reality. You still have to pay fees and bills.”

Milbrodt does not think the state is rushing into Phase 2, but hopes some time does pass for residents and businesses to get acclimated to this current climate.

“I hope they give it a good grace period so that people get comfortable. I wouldn’t want to see them rush into (opening the state fully),” she said. “But I don’t think we’re rushing into (Phase 2) at all, as long as people take the extra precautions and we’re very conscious of that.”

The “O” Bar is at 304 Del Prado Blvd.

The Dek is at 4704 SE 15th Ave.

Dixie Roadhouse is at 1023 SE 47th Terrace.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj