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Delmar Loop restaurants report COVID-19 restriction confusion for customers

A sign outside Mission Taco Joint's Delmar location lets potential customers know they're open for indoor dining

UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. — At a Monday morning press conference, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page hinted that restrictions banning all indoor sales for county bars and restaurants could be lifted in the wake of improving coronavirus data.

“We’ll have to wait and see how this week goes and whether or not we’re trending in the right direction. When we see that downward trend, we can start to consider backing off some of our public health restrictions,” Page said.

A sign outside Mission Taco Joint's Delmar location lets potential customers know they're open for indoor dining, a common question for the business just yards from the St. Louis city-county line.

"We get a lot of calls, all the time," owner Adam Tilford said. "Ever since we opened here, people kind of assumed that the city-county border is on Skinker [Blvd.] when actually it’s on Limit [Avenue] just a little bit on our right here. So we are in St. Louis city proper here."

A Nov. 30 Facebook post also tried to clear up the confusion.

On the other side of the line, the 'open' sign is bright at American Falafel, but there are still no customers seated inside. 

"It's about 50 feet down from us," the shop's owner Mohammed Qadadeh said. "We are basically the last restaurant between the county and the city."

Qadadeh signed the lease for his University City shop March 1, and the store opened in June. Qadadeh is focusing on take-away and delivery during the restrictions, and he helped launch a program that allows customers to buy meals for front line workers. So far they've delivered 500 meals to health professionals with the help of twenty restaurants including their U. City neighbor, PokeDoke.

PokeDoke staff sets up outdoor seating Monday afternoon, but the general manager says their indoor dining room will stay closed even if county restrictions are lifted to keep staff safe and stay in line with procedures at their Central West End location.

Tilford's Delmar location is benefiting from the indoor dining option, but the brand's one county location -- in Kirkwood -- doesn't have the same choice. To help bring in business, Tilford said they have launched a new burger brand, Off The Wall Burgers, from the same space.

"In a true ghost kitchen, people actually wouldn't know where it was. It would just be through delivery, but we're just trying to make anything work right now," Tilford said.

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