It appeared that many people were ready Monday, June 8, to be waited on at local restaurants. Several took advantage of the lifting of the governor’s mid-March closing of indoor dining at restaurants to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

 Michigan bars and restaurants in southern and central Michigan were allowed to reopen to indoor dining at 50-percent capacity Monday, June 8. The Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan businesses were allowed to reopen May 18.

 Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made this latest announcement during a televised press conference Monday, June 1.

 While some restaurants opened their doors Monday, others were more gradual with their openings, giving time to train staff on guidelines to keep the area sanitized and keep employees and diners safe.

 Ciao Italian Bistro and Wine Bar in downtown Fenton opened its indoor dining room and outdoor patio Monday.

 Steve Kaljaj, one of the owners/partners, said reopening was “wonderful.”

 Ciao closed mid-March when the governor said a quarantine was needed. Kaljaj said there was so much unknown about the coronavirus at first and they closed to keep their staff safe. They opened for take-out in early May when they were more comfortable based on numbers they were seeing.

 During the shutdown, Ciao expanded its outdoor patio when they received permission from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. Ciao had already added an area for private parties and because they have to maintain 50-percent capacity, diners also are being seated in this room.

 Kaljaj said they are sanitizing continually and have thermometers available. Servers wear face coverings or shields.

 When doors opened, Kaljaj said diners were “really showing their love and support for the community. We really appreciate the support. The city has been great to work with.

 “We are all in this together and we’re all trying to help each other. It’s been wonderful.”

 Kaljaj said one of the saddest parts through this though is that they can’t give hugs despite being so happy to see the diners. “It’s tough. Who would have ever thought a kid blowing out candles on a birthday cake would ever be an issue,” he said.

 Kaljaj said they feel very fortunate that all of their employees have stayed healthy and safe and are fortunate to have community support. “They are happy to be out,” he said.

Laura Galvin of Fenton said, “I don’t want these businesses to close down. I want to support them.” She dined with her husband Tim on Thursday night, June 11 on the Ciao Italian Bistro patio.

 Marlina Dedivanaj, owner of The Meeting Place (TMP) in Fenton, said, “Everyone was a little anxious but mostly excited getting back to the groove of things. Overall everything went better than expected and our customers were thrilled to be taken care of while dining again. The community has been so great and we are thankful to how easy our customers made this transition for us. You can feel the gratefulness in the air and it really makes the process that much better.”

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