Bars, restaurants maxed out until Marion County changes fine print in virus restrictions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — While the Indianapolis City-County Council voted Monday to change virus restrictions in Marion County — lifting the mask mandate for people who are fully vaccinated — bars and restaurants say they are stuck until there are changes in the fine print.

The proposal‘s approval, once signed by Mayor Joe Hogsett, means bar capacity will go up to 75%, an increase from 50% capacity. Restaurants will remain at 75% capacity.

For these businesses, it is all a numbers game. Even though now bars and restaurants can function at 75% capacity, some specifications are preventing these businesses from getting anywhere near that limit.

The District Tap and Condado Tacos in downtown have technically been able to have their restaurants at 75% capacity for weeks. They say they can’t get anywhere near that number of guests inside their doors while meeting the rest of the mandate.

“To fit 75% of the people in here, we would need, we would need standing room, which the city is not really allowing right now. Everyone has to be seated. So if you put everyone in a seat, you are looking at maybe 50% capacity,” said Callum Langlois, manager at The District Tap.

And the 6-feet rule for social distancing plays a significant role in how many tables bars and restaurants can fit.

“It doesn’t matter if it is 75% if we are social distancing. We only have a finite amount of space in our restaurant,” said Alex Metzger, general manager at Condado Tacos downtown. “When they opened up capacity maybe a couple months ago to 75%, it really didn’t do much for us. I think maybe we were able to add two tables.”

Managers and owners say they have had to start getting creative to get the most bang for their buck.

“Well, we have changed the floor plan multiple times, which means new floor charts and new sections for the servers. It is a lot of extra work,” said Langlois. “We have to try and do everything we can to maximize the revenue potential.”

The restrictions, including social distancing and customers having to remain seated, are continuing to impact how these places do business.

“Wait times are always higher. We are kind of forced sometimes on opportunities to cap people on their time here with us,” said Metzger.

Unfortunately, these businesses say their profits are maxed out until social distancing is a thing of the past.

“I mean it is a lot of wasted opportunities. You know, so much of your revenue in a night or a day is going to be people walking up to the bar and grabbing a drink while they wait for a table,” said Langlois.

Managers who spoke with News 8 say the communication between the city and these businesses is lacking, and they never really know what to expect until it is happening.