NewsLocal News


Utah restaurants and bars enter first weekend of COVID-19 restrictions

Posted at 9:57 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 12:51:24-05

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Friday begins the first weekend since Utah enacted state-wide restrictions for bars and restaurants.

It marks the first real glimpse of how COVID-19 will affect their bottom line while thousands of workers stay home.

The last time Macey Truett bartended at Cheers to You was Saturday night. Now, the only drinks she pours are in her kitchen.

“I’m not working,” Truett said.

Truett is among 15,000 Salt Lake city service workers who don’t have an income and don’t know when they’ll go back to work.

“It’s crazy. A lot of people are pretty sad. People are kind of depressed,” said Truett.

On Wednesday, Utah’s restaurants and bars were ordered to close all dine-in services to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

They can, however, serve food through drive-up, curbside, take out and delivery.

“We decided as a family who we wanted to be in business after this all passed. We decided to come here and support them,” R&R Barbecue customer Mattie Harrison said.

Friday nights at R&R Barbecue are the busiest at the 600 South Location. Owner Roger Livingston isn’t so sure what will happen, but to better his chances he opened up a drive-thru.

“Its been a huge change because we’ve had to change how we deliver food to the customer and they can no longer come to the store and eat and have groups of people coming in together. We’ve had a lot of catering cancel because they don’t want to have a lot of big groups,” Livingston said.

Livingston admits the business took a hit when Vivint Smart Home Arena closed its booth. He and his brother Rod plan to set aside a $1 million fund to help employees navigate the pandemic.

“It’s affected us a lot but our main concern is taking care of our employees and making sure we can keep them employed and get the paychecks coming into them as long as possible,” Livingston said.

Local business owner and actor Ty Burrell and Mayor Mendenhall raised more than $120,000 on Friday through Project Tip Your Server. It will support out-of-work hospitality employees in the city.

“We are hoping it will be some small bit of relief to this vital but vulnerable part of Salt Lake City’s community,” Burrell said in a video posted on Downtown Alliance’s website.

Hospitality employees make up more than eight percent of the state’s total workforce.

“I’m so grateful for all of it. I saved up some money so I’m okay right now. We will see what happens,” Truett said.