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Governor’s pause leaves restaurants scrambling for Thanksgiving

Updated November 24, 2020 - 11:18 am

Timing is everything. And the new restrictions on restaurants could not have come at a worse time, say some local businesspeople now left scrambling to adjust their Thanksgiving dinner reservations.

“People are canceling because they’re parties of five or six that have been on the books for a long time,” Marche Bacchus owner Rhonda Wyatt says. “They don’t want to be split into two tables, because how do you split up a family? All of those people said, ‘Forget it!’ ”

At Buddy V’s in The Venetian, Elizabeth Blau says splitting tables is just one of the issues she’s dealing with as she tries to accommodate her 300 holiday reservations with half of the occupancy.

“We’re going to have to see if people have flexibility on their times, to try and spread out the (reservations),” she says.

In Henderson, Todd’s Unique Dining owner Todd Clore is in the same boat.

“We’re moving who we need to move and adjusting as needed,” he explains. “All of our empty tables have evaporated because we had to move people.”

Related: Restaurants offer family-style Thanksgiving dinners, ready for takeout

As bad as the lost business is, Blau says the last-minute nature of the announcement makes it even worse.

“We ordered the turkeys weeks ago,” she explains. “So, for the governor to tell us on Sunday night that these restrictions are going into place on Monday (night), knowing that there’s a holiday, is just completely irresponsible. What am I supposed to do with all of these leftover turkeys? What am I supposed to tell the vendors, our bakers, our farmers? We don’t need this product?”

Wyatt has been trying to avoid that waste of food by offering it in another format to customers who call to cancel.

“While we have them on the phone we’re offering the Thanksgiving takeout, and quite a few have opted for that. I’m trying to convert everybody who calls.”

One problem she can’t solve through repackaging, however, is the holiday parties she’s been losing because they exceed the governor’s new 50-person limit for events.

“Almost every Christmas party that we had booked called (Monday) to cancel,” Wyatt says.

“We were already in a terrible financial position, and this three weeks pretty much takes us through the holidays,” Blau says of Sisolak’s “statewide pause.” “The governor is requiring reservations. He’s requiring tables of four. He’s requiring 25 percent occupancy. And now you have to wear a mask, even during a meal. It’s like, can you blindfold us also?”

In some respects, the current situation is worse than the original shutdown, when there was at least the possibility of rent relief or some government aid, Wyatt says.

“With 25 percent capacity and no help, I honestly don’t know how long that’s sustainable. Where is the help? We’re all suffering.”

Blau echoes her frustrations.

“We don’t understand how our industry was singled out, without any kind of plan for helping us. It’s maddening. We’re just like pawns in this game.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter. Contact Al Mancini at amancini @reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter.

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