May 31, 2020

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What dining out will look like in photos: Georgia restaurants reopen

  • Georgia allowed restaurants and movie theaters to reopen on Monday, and barbecue chain Smokey Bones plans to reopen its three Georgia locations on Wednesday.
  • Smokey Bones sent Business Insider exclusive photos inside its Lithonia, Georgia restaurant that’s set to open on Wednesday.
  • The photos show taped-off booths, spaced-out tables, masked employees, and continued emphasis on takeout and curbside pickup, all in accordance with Georgia’s new restaurant guidelines.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Monday, Georgia allowed restaurants and movie theaters to reopen, becoming one of the first states to do so.

But reopening isn’t business as normal. Georgia also released a set of non-mandatory guidelines for restaurants to follow upon reopening. The guidelines require restaurants to operate at 50% capacity, while most restaurants only make money if they’re 75% full or more.

Despite the new restrictions, barbecue chain Smokey Bones plans to reopen dining rooms at three Georgia locations on Wednesday, according to a press release emailed to Business Insider. Lithonia, Peachtree City, and Columbus will be the first three locations to reopen.

Bo Peabody, a restaurateur and the cofounder of reservations app Seated, was on Georgia’s task force to create the new reopening guidelines. Peabody told Business Insider that he thinks “the vast majority of restaurants cannot open profitably with these guidelines in place.”

Most of the Georgia restaurant owners that Peabody has spoken to plan to stay closed. However, chains and operators with multiple locations may still be incentivized simply to hone their post-pandemic operating strategy, Peabody said.

“The new business environment, especially now and for the foreseeable future, is not business as usual for us because it is not for our guests and employees either,” Smokey Bones CEO James O’Reilly told Business Insider. “We are making significant changes to the way that we operate to ensure that the health and safety of our guests and our employees remains paramount while also providing guests who do want a restaurant experience and our employees who do desire to come back to work with those opportunities.”

Smokey Bones sent Business Insider exclusive photos inside the Lithonia restaurant that’s reopening on Wednesday.