Wary Of Coronavirus Outbreak, Oregon's Restaurants, Breweries, And Taverns Cautiously Re-Open

May 15, 2020

As Phase 1 of a statewide re-opening of business and operations begins, many Oregon restaurants are setting the table for customers once more…with pandemic protocols. 

Stephen Sheehan smiles under his work mask, as a patron places an order at the Elk Horn Brewery today.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

At Eugene’s Elk Horn Brewery, about 30 people order lunch on the patio. They’re served by wait staff wearing masks, and most are keeping socially distant.  Among the diners is Moosh Shaoui. He’s been an Elk Horn patron for eight years, back when it was a food cart.

Elk Horn patron Moosh Shaoui enjoys a craft beer on the patio area. He says he's been waiting ages to dine out since stay-at-home orders were issued two months ago.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

“I’m happy for them today, back in full business," Shaoui tells KLCC. "Not completely full business, with the social distancing and all the rules set by the governor. A lot of support for them, always.”

Elk Horn owner Stephen Sheehan says it’s great to see people again. But he says it’s going to be a long time before things are back to normal.

“We’ll be on counter service for the rest of the year, there’s no events at the U of O," says Sheehan. "If we do have football for some reason, we may do some days the full table service.”

Sheehan says he’s let go nearly a third of his staff during the pandemic. Yet he feels that the gradual pace of easing restrictions has been appropriate.

And while many Oregon restaurants and bars are re-opening today, several are still getting prepared.

Kim and Ward Fairbairn, owners of Max's Tavern. They've used the business slowdown to renovate and remodel their establishment, and hope to be open to customers by the Memorial Day weekend.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

Kim Fairbairn is co-owner of Max’s Tavern. It’s the oldest Eugene establishment in its original location, near the U of Oregon.  She says they’ve used the pandemic downtime to do some major renovations that have yet to wrap up.

“I hope to have an expanded kitchen area, and we relocated our main bar area to give more flow-through seating and additional seating in the tavern," Fairbairn says, gesturing towards a new bar backsplash.

"So it’s still gonna feel like Max’s, just have a little bit of a facelift, and some really good structural improvements.”

Fairbairn hopes to have Max’s Tavern open by Memorial Day weekend. She says after 27 years of business, it’s hard to endure such a trying event like the COVID-19 pandemic…but adds that small business owners are resilient.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.