Churchill’s Food & Spirits plans to stay open and flexible despite capacity limits

New order limiting gathering capacity maintains restrictions on bars and restaurants
Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 2:22 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Bars and restaurants are forced to pivot once again after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services imposed a new statewide limit on indoor capacity Monday.

Fears about coronavirus in crowded spaces has put limits on the atmosphere and attendance since they were allowed to reopen this summer. The new order issued Monday continues limits set by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier.

Churchill’s Food & Spirits in downtown Flint will continue to move forward during uncertain times.

“It’s been a game changer for sure for this industry," said owner John Saites. "Since COVID-19, hit the whole entire market went on pause. We had to step back what we were doing and now it’s starting from square one again.”

Since June, social gatherings at restaurants and bars have changed. Walking up to order a drink at the bar may be still off the table -- at least for now.

Monday’s order prohibits indoor gatherings where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on site, except for places where diners are seated at least 6 feet away from each other and don’t intermingle.

Churchill’s Food & Spirit in Flint is an English pub with a twist, and Saites said the new normal for social gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic has been challenging.

“Now we’re limited to 10 people max per table. And when you have a party of 20 to 30 call and want to do a last minute meet and greet, we’re not able to accommodate that," he said. “So that’s been difficult and it’s definitely different for walking up to the bar. That’s not the same at all because you could usually have 10 to 20 people hanging around, but now only 10 people seated at the bar.”

Like many restaurants in Mid-Michigan, Saites and his team have been hopeful to serve at a larger capacity sooner rather than later. But as the orders seem to fluctuate, he said his crew will continue to be flexible.

“It’s pretty much our new normal for right now, so we’ve pretty much changed everything we’ve done since we opened again," Saites said. "At this time we’re just hoping for when the holidays come, everything calms down and we’re able to do a larger capacity looking ahead.”

Churchill’s will continue approaching the situation day by day.

“We don’t know what will happen tomorrow," Saites said. "That’s why we’ve just been waiting to see what will happen and when we get notified we’ll follow suit from there.”

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