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Mother’s Day dining different amid Las Vegas restaurant reopenings

Updated May 10, 2020 - 9:55 pm

Mother’s Day is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. That was made even more hectic this year, with the holiday coming a day after Las Vegas restaurants were permitted to reopen their dining rooms, following a state-mandated shutdown.

Downtown brunch

In Downtown Las Vegas, only a handful of places were seating customers during brunch hours on Sunday. One that was, 7th & Carson, was limiting seating to outdoor tables only.

“Opening the patios was the best part of this for us, because we’re outdoors,” said owner Liam Dwyer, who reported that nearly all of his Sunday guests were celebrating the holiday.

Dwyer’s marketing partner, Jenn Tramaglino, said customers had been understanding of their new circumstances, which meant limiting the number of guests per table, and service that might have been a bit slower than usual.

“Everyone has been really calm and patient with service being a little bit different because of the COVID-19 guidelines,” Tramaglino said.

A few blocks away, at Therapy at 518 East Fremont Street, not everyone was as understanding. Maria Horta, who was working the door on Sunday afternoon, reported customers complaining about the staff wearing face masks, and threatening to leave one-star Yelp! reviews unless the restaurant agreed to ignore government guidelines on limiting how many guests could be seated at the same table.

“It is very challenging,” Horta said.

Therapy owner Chris Morganelli said he could relate to some of his guests’ frustrations.

“Of course you’re going to have customers who want to jump back in and get things normal, and I want to really bad, too,” Morganelli said. “But at least we’re open at 50 percent capacity. And that makes me happy.”

Curbside pickup still big in Henderson

In the meantime, the spots in the dining-heavy centers along South Eastern Avenue were busy at brunch time, but mostly for takeout and delivery orders because few had returned to full-service dining.

At Craftkitchen at 10940 S. Eastern Ave., a line of socially distanced customers extended out the door and a good way down the sidewalk at about 11 a.m., and other customers were waiting in their cars for curbside pickup. Owner Jaret Blinn said he had opened five tables indoors on Saturday and was doing the same Sunday.

“We did get some guests who called as soon as (Gov. Steve) Sisolak announced it,” he said. “I was working, so I had no clue what was going on. I said, ‘No, we’re Phase Two,’ but they said no, we’re Phase One. It kind of caught us off guard a little bit.

“Today was rough. We don’t have the staff yet.”

Across the street at the Egg Works at 10839 S. Eastern Ave., a sign announced that the dining room was open, and customers were eating on the patio. Nearby Bell’s BBQ at 10895 S. Eastern Ave. was still takeout-only, and customers David and Laura Rein were enjoying their food at a table outside the door.

“It (was) one of our favorite spots before the virus,” David Rein said. “We’re glad to be back again.”

Laura Rein said she’s been told the dining room would open around May 15, “but it’s very fluid” — both things confirmed by the Bell’s web site.

A bit farther south, the area near The Stove at 11261 S. Eastern Ave. was quiet, with that restaurant planning to reopen May 15 and the adjacent Kneaders Bakery & Cafe closed for the day.

Up the street at Sansone Park Place Plaza, Hot & Juicy Crawfish had a barrier at the door and a sign asking those picking up takeout to have their IDs ready, while Honey Pig Korean BBQ had a sign announcing, “Dine-in available. Long time no see, folks.”

Paymon’s Mediterranean Cafe and Lounge at 8955 S. Eastern Ave. had dedicated spots marked off for curbside pickup. Supervisor Alexander Ecker said they had a large turnout on Saturday, the first day they reopened their dining room.

“Everyone was excited we were open,” he said. Sunday morning was quieter, he said, but they had a number of reservations for Sunday evening.

Sunday supper

By 5 p.m., D’Agostino’s Trattoria at 4155 S. Buffalo Drive was just beginning their second night of dine-in service. A special Mother’s Day menu was being offered both for takeout and dine-in, and they had about 25 reservations on the books for the evening.

“Some of our clientele are still a little hesitant to come out, so we still have 50 percent takeout, 50 percent dine-in,” general manager and owner Brandi Thompson explained.

Her husband, Dan Thompson, who is also the restaurant’s chef, was excited to finally be hosting guests in the dining room again.

“That’s the reason we do this,” Dan explained. “We like to see people gathered together (with) good food, good wine, and just enjoying themselves.”

By 6:00, the two restaurants offering dining-in meals in the Lynden Square shopping center at 6115-6125 S. Ft. Apache Road were both packed with dine-in and takeout customers. In fact, Big B’s Texas BBQ owner Brian Buechner was predicting they’d be out of meat by 6:30. At the neighboring Jjanga Steak & Sushi, a hostess reported having to turn away some customers as they launched their first full night of dine-in service since closing the dining room.

“We have sushi and hibachi,” said Jjanga’s general manager, Ellen Chong. “So yesterday we kind of did a soft run of sushi dine-in. And then today, we finally opened the hibachi for Mother’s Day.”

She predicted it could take a week before they get the hang of things again, but quickly added that “everybody’s been very understanding about it.”

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter. Contact Al Mancini at amancini@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter and Instagram.

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