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Asheville businesses adjust to rolled back restrictions

Asheville businesses adjust to rolled back restrictions
The COVID-19 pandemic meant a move to a smaller venue for Grail Moviehouse. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Grail Moviehouse in Asheville's River Arts District doesn't sell hard liquor, but its occupancy is still restricted.

"If it keeps trending down, it's just going to be much more encouraging for us and for our patrons," moviehouse owner Steve White said of the COVID-19 numbers.

White has been watching the area's COVID-19 numbers more closely than any film.

The pandemic meant a move to a smaller venue, one screen instead of three, which turned out to be 30 percent and a good move.

"We designed this space that has 40 seats, socially distanced in a space kind of larger than or larger space at the old location," White said. "We actually mapped out that we could put up about 120 seats in this location eventually, but, for now, it's kind of designed for COVID."

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White said it's time to wait for Hollywood and more films as theaters open nationwide. He'll stick with private groups of no more than 15 people for now, better suited to his regular audience.

"We have a patronage that trend older, so we have a lot of patrons who probably would not like to come out until they were vaccinated," White said.

West Asheville's Odditorium caters to a decidedly younger crowd, many late-nighters who have had no place to go with no bars open.

But doors open again there on Monday, and the alcohol curfew has moved 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

"The biggest game changer is we can have 30 people inside," Odditorium co-owner Amy Marshall said.

For the Odditorium, 30 percent equals 30 customers.

The math is easy, doing things the right way is tough.

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Marshall and her team have been using the down time to make upgrades, like a kitchen, game room and lounge and restrooms on both sides, a setup that lends itself to keeping people better distanced. She believes it's a good start.

"As we learn and we negotiate and we figure out the ins and outs of running a business and keeping everyone safe, that is ideally the biggest concern right now," Marshall said.

CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION CENTER: TRACK THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS, IMPACTS, AND HEADLINES ABOUT THE PANDEMIC HERE

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