Open sign

OTTUMWA — Some area local restaurants are planning to reopen dining rooms Friday while others will wait.

David Niño-Liu, Appanoose Rapids co-owner, said he and co-owner Dennis Willhoit are going to continue with curbside pickup and will not reopen for dining in for at least two weeks.

“We decided after following the announcements to try and see what is realistic on what can be a gradual reopening,” Niño-Liu said. “We believe it would be better to continue with curbside pickup … the customers will feel that it is best; it’s mostly for our peace of mind, too.

“We plan for this to be gradual,” Niño-Liu added. “We are thinking about the safest way to reopen as we know that not everyone will come. I just want to highlight that we are following recommendations from the Iowa Restaurant Association and Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals to keep customers safe. We are going to wait two more weeks to see how it progresses … and we will make our own plans to reopen.”

Niño-Liu said they already brought back some employees. He and Willhoit are continuing to brainstorm ways to keep business afloat.

“Nothing is too concrete,” he said. “We are very aware that things are not going to go back to the way things were two months ago. We are thinking of different business strategies that will work best.”

Other restaurants such as Stockyard Steak and Chop House and Godfrey’s Ale House will reopen at a 50 percent capacity Friday, according to the restaurants’ Facebook pages.

Both posted that they will practice social distancing and will not allow more than six people at a table.They are also practicing further sanitization efforts.

Other restaurants, including Warehouse Barbecue and Culver’s, are not going to reopen dining rooms on Friday.

“We will not be opening for dine-in this Friday,” Warehouse Barbecue wrote on its Facebook page. “We have decided to play it safe and continue carry-out and delivery only. We look forward to getting things back to normal, but for now we will continue to serve you in the safest way possible.”

Trena Breske, owner of Benchwarmers, has also decided not to reopen Friday.

“I called my employees and we met going over guidelines,” Breske said. “We decided not to reopen at this time and will continue with delivery and carryout only at least until the beginning of next week.”

“Concern hasn’t hit its peak,” Breske added. “We want to hold off until I can get everyone trained so we can run things smoothly. The guidelines in place are not very detailed and very vague. We want to hold off until we have it all figured out.”

Breske said employees will continue to review guidelines to ensure safety. She won’t be ready to open until the pandemic dies down.

“I don’t want to jump the gun just yet and jeopardize my employees’ and customers’ safety when we aren’t ready,” Breske said. “I don’t want to put my employees and customers at risk.

“We are just trying to figure it out like everyone else,” Breske added. “I think it’s a lot for a mom-and-pop restaurant to take into consideration.”

Breske and Niño-Liu are grateful for customers’ support as they figure out their next steps.

“The community has been tremendous with all the calls,” Breske said. “They are so generous and nice and things are going really smoothly.”

“We want to show gratitude to people who have supported us,” Niño-Liu said. “We are always going to be grateful for the support and we are thankful to our customers who have supported us.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at

Chiara Romero can be reached at


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