Lifestyle

What to Know About Atlanta Businesses Reopening

Here are the policies you need to know.

The Whiskey Project
The Whiskey Project has rearranged its dining room so that tables are all six feet apart. | The Whiskey Project
The Whiskey Project has rearranged its dining room so that tables are all six feet apart. | The Whiskey Project

The coronavirus hasn’t slowed down in Georgia, but the state’s businesses are slowly reopening. As of April 27, restaurants and a handful of other businesses like nail salons and gyms were allowed to reopen and, after weeks of staying home, people are getting antsy. 

Smyrna resident Jordan Abell recently dined on the patio of Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar in Smyrna. “The staff was cautious from the moment we arrived,” she says, adding that they wore masks, gloves, and that seating was spaced out. “We definitely felt safe, and enjoyed our experience.” 

At 26 Thai in Midtown, general manager Tony Appie says that the phone has been ringing every day since Governor Kemp made his reopening announcement. “People just want to dine out right now,” says Appie. They’re following state guidelines, he says, and trying to pay attention to details beyond the state regulations. “Usually, we’ll pull a chair out for someone, but now we don’t, to help maintain social distancing,” he says. Right now, the restaurant is only seating five to seven tables at night, but he’s gauging things to see how it goes. 

The CDC still recommends avoiding crowded spaces, and as of Tuesday afternoon there were over 34,000 coronavirus cases reported in Georgia, but just as preaching abstinence doesn’t work for sex ed, neither does ignoring the fact that people are going to go out. So, if you’re going to do it, do so as safely as possible. Here are some things to expect. 

Restaurants

When Governor Kemp announced that restaurants may reopen their dining rooms, many business owners responded that they would be holding off. Weeks later, many restaurants are now sussing out how their customers feel about reopening and what would make them feel safe. In a survey sent out by the Castellucci Hospitality Group, for example, customers were asked how they felt about plexiglass dividers between tables and whether they wanted to order from their server directly or using a contact-less method. 

Some restaurants have reopened their dining rooms. If you plan to visit one, know that it will not be like dining in the time Before Corona. Georgia set 39 requirements for restaurants to follow, which now includes a maximum of 10 people per 300 square feet and employees wearing masks at all times. 

Battle & Brew, a video game venue-restaurant hybrid in Sandy Springs, reopened on Friday, May 8, sharing the precautions they’re taking on their Facebook page. A post shared says that they’ll have sanitizer, hand soap, and paper towels distributed throughout the restaurant. They’re also enforcing social distancing by not seating gamers too close together and the bar is closed. 

Some restaurants are easing into reopening. True Story Brands, which counts 10 Degrees South and Biltong Bar in its lineup, has been completely shut-down since mid-March, but is beginning takeout and curbside service on Thursday, May 14, as part of its "reopening strategy.” In a more in between approach, Grana in Piedmont Heights (which opened its doors at the beginning of the pandemic) has opened its patio and rooftop. Similarly, so has Lagarde American Eatery in Chamblee and the Whiskey Project in Roswell. 

Some policies vary by restaurant, but most diners should be prepared to wait in their cars until their tables are ready. 

Bars

Bars and nightclubs have been prohibited from reopening until at least May 31. Although there are still places to get libations. Sweetwater Brewery, for example, has reopened its patio with limited seating. 

Movie Theaters

Independent theaters like Springs Cinema and chains like Regal have not reopened their theaters despite being allowed to. The Starlight Drive-In in Atlanta, though, has reopened. To safely enjoy it they ask that guests stay in their vehicle and practice social distancing. 

Museums

Museums in Atlanta have not reopened. Many, like the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the High Museum are offering virtual experiences, though. 

Parks

Atlanta parks and trails, including the ones in suburban cities, are open. But, social distancing rules still apply. If the park or trail you’re visiting tends to get crowded, you should probably wear a mask. Also, just because you’re outside doesn’t mean the virus can’t spread so gathering for a picnic with five of your besties isn’t recommended, either. 

Rec 

Many golf courses in Atlanta have temporarily closed. Bobby Jones in Buckhead has remained open throughout, though, with precautions in place. According to the website, these precautions include only accepting prepaid reservations, flipped cups to prevent reaching in for the ball, and the suspension of their golf shop. They’re also asking guests to putt with the flagsticks left in the holes to help eliminate another touchpoint.

Many gyms have been reluctant to reopen because close proximity makes it harder to socially distance. LA Fitness originally planned on reopening on May 1, but pushed back their timeline indefinitely. But, like restaurants, some are easing into it.

Crossfit 404 in Buckhead reopened on Wednesday, May 13. In a post shared on Facebook, they explained that there will be reduced class sizes, checking temperatures upon entering class, and limiting people to a designated workout space. Other reopened gyms include Wall Crawler Rock Club in Candler Park, Total Row Fitness in Buckhead, and Stat Wellness.

Many of the rules for gyms in the era of COVID-19 are the same as restaurants. Wearing a mask while working out, even in limited settings, might be the safest option, but that can be a challenge.

The Atlanta Botanical Gardens announced that it’s reopening to the public on May 21 (members will have access beginning May 18). Guests will have to purchase a timed ticket and masks are “strongly recommended” for people over two (and required in restrooms). Most pathways will be one direction and guests are expected to maintain social distancing. Their children’s garden and indoor spaces will be closed.

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Lia Picard is an Atlanta-based journalist writing about food, travel, and a variety of other topics. Her work appears in The Washington Post, Bon Appetit, and CNN Travel.