Nashville restaurant faces new hurdles with reopening

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Monday marks one week since restaurants in Nashville have been allowed to open for dine-in customers at half capacity.

While some have opted to stay closed, many are juggling the changes between take-out and safety protocols.

The Ridge barbecue restaurant in West Nashville celebrated their third anniversary this weekend, a lot different than they pictured it three years ago.

“For us, it started slow, but then Friday night we had a full house,” said owner Charlie Babb, “A couple of tables the first day, three or four the next day, five or six the next.”

From a 90 person capacity with an upstairs bar, The Ridge can now only allow about 40 at a time at tables inside and out, 6 feet apart, with staff suited for safety with gloves and masks.

“Initially we didn’t wear masks on everything we did, and it takes a little bit of getting used to,” Babb said, “You get back there you get hot you get going, you steam up and you got glasses on and everything else.”

With several meat factory production lines slowed or stopped due to COVID-19 outbreaks — supply is limited.

“Being in the barbecue world, you can’t get beef, you can’t get pork, you can’t get ground beef etc.,” Babb explained, “A brisket for instance in our case more than doubled in one week.”

Even with four different distributors, abBb’s had to take brisket by the pound and half pound off his menu.

“You can still get a brisket sandwich, nachos, tachos, plate, combos, that kind of thing,” he said, “Just the bulkness of it… we can’t make anything with the pricing right now, we certainly can’t go up in the middle of all this.”

While they’ve lost all their catering gigs, they say the demand for takeout during the pandemic introduced new customers, ones they hope they’ll serve in-person soon.

“The goal is that you’ve done a good enough job back when they’re getting it in Styrofoam in 20 to 30 minutes after you’ve made it, that they wanna come in… when they can come in sit down, you literally take it right to the table when it’s fresh made,” Babb said.

He adds that’s what will make it all worth while, “That’s the hardest part, when we went from full capacity to nobody inside, you really realize how much the people that come in and out and the interactions mean in this business not just the food,” he said, “People are what make what we do the reason we do it .”

The Ridge did have to lay off employees during the pandemic, but Babb says once they are able to reopen fully, they are looking to hire.

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