Rock County bars and restaurants open for business, with changes

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BELOIT, Wis. (WTVO) ─ For the first time in over two months, Rock County bars and restaurants got the go ahead from health officials to let customers eat inside. While some are ready and welcoming, others are taking things a little slower.

“It is a pretty amazing feeling to have customers in a building that’s sat empty for over 10 weeks,” said Jeni Diehl, owner of Coach’s Bar and Grill in Beloit, 2745 Prairie Avenue.

Rock County is officially open for business, but with restrictions.

“Every two hours, for sure, we’re wiping down all the door handles, all the glass, everywhere everybody’s sat, all the games, anything anybody touches, the bathroom, the handles in the bathroom, the doorknobs everything,” said Diehl. “I have, actually, visors if people feel more comfortable having something on in here.”

Rock County guidelines say restaurants and bars can only fill to 25% capacity. Some bar owners are taking extra steps, like asking people to not pay with cash.

“We’re just going above and beyond to make sure that we can do our part to keep people safe,” said Diehl. “Any step that we can take to get back to feeling a little more normal feels good.”

Geronimo Hospitality Group owns eight bars and restaurants in downtown Beloit. Blue Collar Coffee, 408 Pleasant Street, was the only one to open Thursday.

“Other Beloit restaurants are just working on transitioning from this carry out model to this curbside model back to serving guests again,” said Geronimo Hospitality Group Director of Public Relations RoseAnn Haedt.

Restaurants and bars are asking for customers to do their part too.

“I definitely only want well people here. If anybody feels remotely sick, please stay home and shelter at home. Definitely, small business owners never want to appear reckless or uncaring, but it is our livelihoods,” said Diehl. “We haven’t even been open a year yet, but I do feel like it’s a reopening. It feels like the first day again.”

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