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St. Louis County restaurants to allow 50% capacity

Any help is good but still not enough for some restaurants struggling during the pandemic

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — As of Thursday, St. Louis County is now allowing restaurants to open up to 50% capacity.

For barbecue staple Salt + Smoke, co-owner Tom Schmidt said he's ready to welcome back more customers.

"We're excited to receive and host more of our guests again," he said.

2020 was hard on their business like many others. Schmidt and team looked for new ways to turn a profit.

“We started a national shipping program where we ship our barbeque to the front door of barbeque lovers across America,” Schmidt said.

While some relief is better than none, half a dining room isn’t enough to keep the kitchen open at other places.

“This doesn't move the needle much for our restaurants,” said Brant Baldanza, who's with OG Hospitality Group.

The group owns a few eateries across the state, including The Shack, The Tavern Kitchen and Bar and The Corner Pub & Grill.

Baldanza said after spreading out tables to allow for social distancing and following other health measures, easing up on the capacity restriction doesn't allow for that many more people.

“In our largest restaurant, five or six more tables and the smallest restaurant, one more,” he said.

Baldanza said this virus needs to be taken seriously and understands the extra health requirements, but he wants to see St. Louis County leaders have more communication.

“You've communicated very well on what we can't and can do,” Baldanza said. “But now tell us when we can expect to see normalcy.”

It’s time to recover, he said, for his business but more importantly for his employees.

“I am eternally grateful for my staff for being my support anchor through all of this,” Baldanza said.