STATEWIDE — While many owners are excited to start getting back to normal as Monday kicks off Florida’s phase one for reopening, for some restaurants owners it does not make financial sense to open up at a quarter capacity.

It would hurt their bottom line more than just take-out only. Not to mention, all of the business owners are struggling to pay rent while waiting on their loans and having to figure out how much longer they can keep a full staff.

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The owners of Racks Billiards are still waiting for their federal loan, but they are hanging in.

And even though their bottom line is hurting, they agree with the governor’s phased approach.

“If it was not done this way, I think it would be utter chaos. Because everyone’s just itching to do something. Everyone would pile in and it would be a nightmare. And I think it would just re-spark it and set us back another month or two,” said Anthony Digiacomo.

The Sunshine State’s restaurants are reopening at 25 percent capacity and for Racks Billiards that means about 95 people. 

Every table is at least six feet apart and social distancing is still being stressed. In addition, people in the kitchen are wearing masks and employees’ temperatures are being checked when they come in.

Meanwhile on Park Avenue in Winter Park, some restaurants decided to still do carry-out only for a few more days. 

Friday at 4 p.m. until end of business on Sunday Park Avenue will be closed to cars. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce is allowing restaurants to expand their seating capacity by putting tables in the street and hoping more people can shop and eat local to support Park Avenue businesses.

Brevard restaurant welcomes the reopening

In Brevard County, the owner of the Yellow Dog Cafe in Palm Bay is welcoming the timing of the reopening. 

"We started to decline rapidly in early March," said Stuart Borton. "I've had restaurants in Australia, here, never had anything like this."

Takeout wasn't an option for the fine dining establishment. Borton was forced to lay off all 40 employees at the Yellow Dog Cafe, including the chefs. Some of them have been working at the restaurant most of its 22 years in business.

With the 25 percent capacity requirement, Borton says that means roughly 100 people can dine in. Repairs are being made, floors are being replaced, and the restaurant is getting a deep cleaning.

Borton says most of his employees are ready to get back to work. Each will have the option of wearing masks and gloves.

Borton added the restaurant was able to get the Paycheck Protection Program loan and close on it Wednesday. The Yellow Dog Cafe is gearing up to reopen Friday, and reservations are nearly gone.

Any restaurants that violate the governor’s order face a second-degree misdemeanor, which is up to 60 days in prison and a fine of up to $500.

Reporter Asher Wildman contributed to this story.

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