As restrictions ease across the state of Iowa, restaurants throughout the Dallas County area are preparing for new ways to reopen to the public.


Some, such as Mickey’s Irish Pub located in Waukee, began offering dine in service on Monday, May 18 after making numerous changes to the pub. The restaurant has not only added four booths and taken down a wall by their pool table but has also re-stained all of their tables, chairs and the stage.


The tables have since been arranged to ensure 50 percent occupancy and are six feet apart from one another. The restaurant has also set up sanitization stations for both customers and staff while switching to mostly disposable items for their baskets, drink glasses and condiments.


“Being closed for this long gave us ample opportunity to clean the whole place from top to bottom, even including pulling out bottle coolers, which was a tough job,” Waukee Mickey’s Irish Pub Owner Amy Walsh said. “We are looking forward to getting back on a normal schedule and seeing our customers again. Although we are all a little nervous about what kind of business we will be bringing in, we need to start bringing in cash flow again to survive through this.”


Walsh said that she doesn’t anticipate normal capacity will happen for quite some time as many customers are still leery about being out in public too often. Because of this the pub will continue to have carry out options available as well as delivery through “My Town To Go.” Customers are encouraged to order from the menu on the Mickey’s Irish Pub website or from paper menus that will then be disposed of after their use.


“Local businesses are so very important and residents should do what they can to support them,” Walsh said. “Throughout this pandemic the local community has been supporting us by getting take-out orders and buying gift certificates, which has been amazing. It certainly helped us to have some of the money coming in to help pay for our fixed expenses.”


Brickyard Burgers and Brews located in Adel is also making changes to their establishment, adding a new kitchen and additions to the patio area. This will allow the restaurant to provide breakfast on the weekends as well as add pizza to their current menu.


“Even if we reopen many will stay home. I don’t blame them. I also don’t blame the people who want to come out,” John Royer of Brickyard Burgers and Brews said. “I truly believe, if you feel good and safe, you should come out. If you don’t feel safe, take more time to feel safe.”


With almost two acres of property, The Handlebar in Dallas Center has instead chosen to only open its outdoor grounds at 50 percent capacity. The restaurant will also continue to offer curbside takeout and operate with a slightly reduced menu.


“COVID-19 has been difficult for people all around the world. We have had a great response with so many regular customers, and many new ones to meet with our curbside service. However, we miss having people in our restaurant and on our grounds,” The Handlebar General Manager Scott Selim said.


Selim said that keeping staff and customers safe is The Handlebar’s number one priority. Because of this, the restaurant will place outdoor tables at minimum six feet apart and will not allow groups with more than six people. They will also continue to use disposable products when serving customers in order to limit the contact of items that go in and out of the restaurant.


“Our local community is more important than ever for the business model we have had to adapt to. In the past year, we have brought a lot of people into the community from other areas much farther away, but during this time that is not the normal way to travel. We are so gracious for the support we have received from the Dallas Center, Grimes, Adel and the other surrounding communities,” Selim said.


Even with the recent weather, Ambro’s Roadhouse in De Soto has also worked to get their outdoor patio ready for customers. As part of this outdoor seating, the restaurant has added a sanitation table and will continue to serve customers using disposable containers.


Ambro’s Roadhouse will also continue to offer their curbside to go service in order to help keep both customers and staff safe. Amber Broeker of Ambro’s Roadhouse said that customers can indicate when they call whether they will choose the curbside pick up or dining on the patio, which opened on Friday, May 15.


“We will have tables distanced accordingly to the rules and regulations, only allowing six people per table,” Broeker said. “I know the community is very ready to get out of the house and enjoy some nice weather on the patio with family and friends.”


Director of Hospitality at Tigerhawk Hospitality Group Andy Crounse said that the Central Standard team in Waukee is continuing to learn as they go and adjust to a new normal. He also said that as far as the restaurant is concerned, a safe, healthy, and controlled re-opening is far preferable to a rushed, haphazard one.


Central Standard has since revamped their dining and patio areas in order to help enforce social distancing. Staff is also required to wear PPE, with the restaurant offering single-use, disposable menus, plates, utensils and glassware to any guests.


“In just our first weekend back, our hearts have been filled time and again,” Crounse said. “We cannot begin to express the pure gratitude we feel from all the kind words, the smiles, the great revenues and the simple thank you’s we have received from our guests. It is so easy to take for granted the things we encounter daily, but the situation that we find ourselves in as a global community puts a lot into perspective.”