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Restaurants say amended executive order helps

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This week, Gov. Doug Burgum decided to increase capacity limits for restaurants, bars and event venues.

Beginning Jan. 8, the capacity for restaurants and bars will go from 50 percent capacity to 65 percent capacity, but not exceed 200 people.

One of the owners of Bennigans in Mandan says the drop in the number of new coronavirus cases is finally helping turn things around.

“I think that’s the biggest issue, continuing to have good numbers I guess. Low numbers and consumer confidence is going to be our biggest issue,” said Rob Knoll, one of the co-owners of Bennigans.

Restaurants, bars and the service industry have taken a huge hit from shutdowns to limitations to curfews.

Brian Ritter, with the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber EDC, said any step to help business is good but the earlier closure times did make a bigger impact.

“Those bar members, those institutions that have been impacted the most were really impacted adversely when they couldn’t be open from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. because, unlike more traditional restaurants, their hours don’t necessarily at 11 a.m., or noon or 1 p.m.,” said Ritter.

While the capacity increase is appreciated, it’s the support of the community that is keeping the industry going.

“I was actually quite concerned that the consumer confidence would take a while for people to come back to the restaurants. And I’m not sure this will be such a big issue anymore,” said Knoll.

“Every little bit helps a business like a restaurant or a bar who has experienced such a 2020, hopefully, look forward to a much better 2021,” said Ritter.

Ritter says through all the changes the service industry have been innovative.

He says those innovations will help business plans moving forward.

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