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'We sold out at 3 p.m., and it was great' | Crowds return to St. Louis bars and restaurants

Hospitality workers report larger crowds over the past week, a welcome sign about one year after the pandemic halted business.

ST. LOUIS — When Amy Guo closes the door on Sando Shack's new food truck Sunday afternoon, their crew is ready to roll out a little earlier than expected.

"We sold out at 3 p.m., and it was great," she said of the lunch rush.

It's the first time the pop-up sandwich shop debuted the new truck. They were scheduled to post up outside of Urban Chestnut's Midtown location until 4 p.m. but sold out earlier than expected.

"We anticipated what the turnout was gonna be like, and we exceeded that," Guo said. "So it was a really great turnout today."

The brewery's staff said they've also seen crowds suddenly grow over the past week, a welcome sign about one year after the pandemic brought the hospitality industry to a screeching halt.

"I think it's only going to continue to escalate moving forward," Urban Chestnut partner Jon Shine said. 

Shine attributes the rapid growth to vaccine rollout, adding the springtime weather is helping too. Yet, they're only seating at around 25% capacity with a reminder to "wear a mask" posted at the front gate.

"Customers are feeling confident with more people getting vaccinated, but we wanna make sure that we are continuing to offer people a very safe environment where they can come and spend time with their friends and family and feel safe. That's the most important thing," Shine said.

As Guo prepares to hit the road, she knows their business might need more 'sandos' for crowds at next week's stops.

In addition to capacity limits, some restaurant owners tell 5 On Your Side they're struggling to find enough staff to keep up with demand. One recommendation: make reservations when possible.

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