Michigan restaurant association proposes plan to increase indoor dining capacity

Restaurants currently under 25% capacity restrictions

Frustrated that restaurants are still at 25% capacity for indoor dining, the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) released a plan to get restaurants back on stable financial ground that uses COVID positivity rates to determine restaurant density.

Michigan’s current COVID positivity rate is just over 3%, which according to the plan from MRLA, would allow for 50% density. MRLA CEO Justin Winslow said restaurants that have reopened under the current 25% rule are doing it primarily to remind customers that they are still open.

“Twenty-five percent it’s not a break even. You can’t pay your bills, you just can’t,” said JoMarie Amato, who owns Gaudino’s in St. Clair Shores.

READ: 11 takeaways from Whitmer’s COVID update: Variant spreading, Michigan vaccinations, relief money

Amato said the restaurant is more than a small business to her.

“It is a family legacy. My grandfather started this business in the 40′s,” she said.

What started as an Italian meat market has morphed into a chic spot where you’re at home having lamb chops or a pizza. Amato had a staff of 40 people, but it’s now down to 10. She worries for her serving staff who at this time won’t be coming back anytime soon.

The MRLA wants Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reassess the capacity restrictions as soon as possible.

“It has been a year,” Winslow said. “I think it’s time and this industry is owed some more concrete planning from the administration that can be driven by data.”


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