Restaurants, bars, breweries, tasting rooms, and distilleries were all given the go-ahead to open under Oregon’s Phase I plan for recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown. After May 15, for the first time in two months, restaurants fired up their grills and employees put on their masks, allowing people to dine in and sit outside while following Phase 1 guidelines.

The Open Door at Clearwater Gallery located on Hood Avenue opened their doors on the Friday that kicked off Memorial Day Weekend.

Co-owner Julia Rickards told The Nugget that they were busy the first day.

“We did have a lot of tourists come through during Memorial Day weekend,” Rickards said.

It is one thing to have the legal ability to reopen and another thing entirely to instill a feeling of confidence in the minds of the guests.

“It was great being open but a little scary,” Rickards said. “We value our community so much and are trying to be so careful. We were learning the guidelines and wanted to keep people safe.”

She added, “We are just beginning to see our regulars coming back, and they have been hugely supportive. We feel fortunate that we have the extra spaces to expand outside at this time of year. Our biggest goal right now is how to care for our community whether it’s take out or dine in. What we are planning is a take-out menu for those who still don’t feel safe dining out.”

For the month of June, The Open Door will be open Wednesday through Saturday, with a slightly smaller menu with all the favorites.

As the gradual reopening of the county’s dine-in services rolled in on May 15, some restaurant employees and managers expressed concerns about patron complaints regarding restrictions.

The Gallery restaurant employee Tammy Kirshner said that some guests are frustrated having to wait a little longer to get seated.

“They have to wait until we disinfect everything and there is limited seating that goes with social distancing.”

Manager Mike Andrusco mentioned they opened Memorial Day Weekend and patrons are slowly coming back in.

“It’s been wonderful to see all their faces, although they can’t see mine,” Andrusco said, chuckling. “Our locals have been coming out and showing us support. We are running a limited menu of our top sellers. Right now, it’s 21 and older, and we will expand our hours and seating with time as permitted and are continuing to complete our remodeling to offer the best experience we can for guests.”

Some local restaurants have delayed reopening dining rooms during Phase I.

Takoda’s Restaurant and Lounge manager Kyle Harbick noted that they should be open soon.

“We are getting ready to be able to stick to the governor’s guidelines and regulations but are mainly finishing up some projects,” Harbick explained. “When we reopen, we will have a full menu but no salad bar. Our regulars have been awesome and are excited about getting out on our patio to eat.”

The dining room and bar in Chops Bistro has been empty since mid-March. Prior to shutdown, owner Tracy Syanovitz said business was up 84 percent from last year’s numbers.

“We opened on May 15. Business was good Friday and Saturday,” she said. “The rest of week, not so busy. We do have the same chef and same employees. This is going to be a challenge with the same amount of staff, but with limited business. Right now, due to eight weeks of shutdown and limited numbers reopening, I am down 15 percent from last year.”

She added, “I think what will help business this summer, due to limited seating, will be my outside seating. Last night, I had one table in the dining room and a full porch. Tables are six feet apart and people feel safer in an outdoor setting. The menu is the same, and we are going to expand bar food next week, due to a renovation taking place in kitchen.”

Chops will be having live entertainment again but keeping strict with volume in the lounge area to keep within the regulations.

People are excited to be back at dine in restaurants, even if it is with a new normal.

“The amount of supportive feedback that we have gotten has been wonderful as far as people being so grateful to be able to come to a place where they can feel normal again,” said Sarah Spaniol,” Cottonwood Café manager. “We have a new simpler temporary menu with indoor and outdoor seating.”

Cottonwood Café is open now Thursday through Monday, with additional seating on the sidestreet alongside the cottage.

Three Creeks Brewing Company is open and keeping it simple.

“We opened last Wednesday and did the first two days of just online ordering to go, then we opened inside on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. It went good but business is still down,” said manager Mark Perry. “The Sisters Stampede bike race has always brought a lot of traffic. We’re keeping the menu simple; there’s always that possibility of a second wave of COVID-19.”

Cork Cellars opened its doors Friday, May 15, and manager Heather Belmont is happy to see at least half of the regulars coming back in.

She said, “It’s the same menu for Cork Cellars with a special every week.”

Co-owner Tom Buck has been thinking creatively, figuring out ways to keep their live music traditions.

“We are excited about getting entertainment back in Phase III, maybe in June sometime,” Buck said. “We plan to have two one-hour shows like the jazz clubs in the old days. An early set, clean up, disinfect then a later set.”

He added, “This town has absolutely embraced us since we moved in here and has been incredibly supportive.”

Renee Reitmeier, Fika Sisters Coffee House owner, opened her doors from curbside to inside on Memorial Day.

Reitmeier said, “I love our community and hope we can continue to support each other as we each journey through this and work out how best we feel it is to live during this time. The support from my regulars is something I will always remember as long as I live. They stood in wind and rain and waited patiently while coffee was made. I am forever grateful.”