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Restaurants reopen dining rooms in Utah, but, some owners worry about patrons returning coronavirus
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Restauranteur: Coronavirus could shut down 20-25% of Utah restaurants

(Sean Miller, owner of The Park Cafe, and his girlfriend, Tina Chante, preparing to open their Salt Lake restaurant. Credit: Spenser Heaps, KSL, April 28, 2020)

SALT LAKE CITY — As many as one in four restaurants in Utah will not survive the global coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, according to an expert in the industry. 

Melva Sine, of the Utah Restaurants Association, joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss the recent reopening of restaurants to walk-in customers and outlook for eateries in the weeks and months ahead. 

While Dave has ventured out to dine in at local spots, Debbie is playing it safe and eating at Cafe Deb.

Why go back inside?

“One good reason that I should go back to a restaurant soon. Give it to me,” Debbie asked.

“You should go back to a restaurant so that you can enjoy going out and being a part of what we consider the community life of enjoying a restaurant, enjoying people, enjoying all of those things that the restaurant industry provides for you. Not to mention great food,” Sine said.

“Melva, I went out a couple of times this weekend, and I was shocked at how few people were there,” Dave said. “And then this stark reality of what it looks like to shut down tables inside a restaurant. I was blown away with how many tables had big signs that said, ‘Do not sit here.’ How did things go this weekend?”

“So it was a rough weekend as far as the first opening and people being able to get back out. And especially for restaurants that maybe did not offer curbside delivery or take-out,” Sine said.

“It’s going to take a while. Because, what do they say, it takes 21 days to make a new habit, and we’ve been closed down for 45 days. There are a lot of people who are comfortable with just the way things have been operating,” she said.

Restaurants and coronavirus

Sine said every day workers are sanitizing restaurants that are open. 

“They may not be wearing masks, but they do wear gloves. They do use hand sanitizer all the time,” Sine said. 

She said the public should know that restaurants are ready to serve them and to serve them safely.

“How many restaurants won’t make it out of this and have to close their doors for good?” Debbie asked.

“We’re looking at anywhere between 20 to 25 percent of our restaurants closing and not reopening their doors,” Sine said. “It’s going to be a struggle even when they reopen because, as you say, it’s going to be people getting used to and comfortable with going out.”

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 or coronavirus spreads person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States