LIBERTY — A handful of businesses and restaurants have reopened around the historic Liberty Square while other businesses continue curbside and online shopping and dining options.
Ryan Miller, general manager at Whiteside Jewelry, said the store reopened May 5. During the first few days, foot traffic in the store was steady.
“We have had some basic repairs that needed to be done,” he said. “I would say most people are coming in with masks. We are asking customers to wear masks as we are wearing masks when we are taking care of customers.”
Owner Steve Meirowsky said they are using a UV light and alcohol to disinfect jewelry and watches before and after handling. He said these actions are ahead of the curve and will protect the staff and customers.
“We are also cleaning counters and the door handle after each customer interaction,” Miller said. “We are offering curbside too if they would rather not come in the store.”
The jewelry store also is open fewer store hours.
A couple doors down from Whiteside is Luigi’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar. Like Whiteside, the restaurant opened May 5. During the stay-at-home orders, the restaurant was deep cleaned.
Lianna Ladore, one of the servers at Luigi’s on the Liberty Square, said restaurant patrons have been kind and patient. While the restaurant has had steady traffic, they have not exceeded limits of 25 people inside.
“We seat people in a staggered fashion around the restaurant,” she explained. “No one is too close to anyone else who is not part of their immediate dining party. Once their meal is complete, we take off the table cloth and sanitize everything from the table and chairs.”
Owner Ari Dreshaj said his staff and he also are wearing masks and gloves every second the restaurant is open.
“We are hoping this stops the germs from spreading,” he said. “We are trying to do our best. I even have limited staff in the kitchen.”
Dreshaj said he believes people will start to feel more confident to leave the house in a week or two.
“The hope is that while carryout is still available, people will want to come back for some fine dining and have a glass of wine,” he said. “It’s about the experience. We are fortunate to have a big space in this restaurant so we can space people out and they can enjoy a good meal. It’s been tough for the restaurant business, but we will survive.”
At More Excuses Women’s Boutique, Susan Donnici and Cindy Smith, co-owners, want visitors to wear masks, having reopened May 4.
“I would say we had four or five customers the first day,” Donnici said. “People have to be comfortable. We have a few stores and restaurants open, but I really believe as more open, it will increase traffic around here.”
The two women are hoping foot traffic increases to their store in particular.
“We don’t want to lose our business,” Donnici said. “We have one of the larger store footprints here and we are concerned.”
As with other businesses back open, the owners are feeling their way through this process. Smith said there were no real guidelines as to how to open, only the restrictions of people and physical distancing.
“We don’t want to put customers at risk so we are doing what we feel is safe for everyone,” she said. “We have been cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning.”
Donnici said if a customer wants to try on a garment and doesn’t purchase it, the item goes to the back room and is steam cleaned.
“It’s not put back out for a couple days,” she said. “We are trying to institute the best practices we can.”
Hammerhand Coffee has continued business. Initially, they were offering curbside pickup, but now have a Plexiglas barrier where customers can walk up and order.
Jessica Kensinger is one of the faithful customers who comes to order coffee two to three times a week.
“It’s important to support the local folks,” she said. “I work for Preferred Family Healthcare here in town, helping clients who are dealing with issues.”
Kensinger is a substance abuse counselor.
“We forget about mental health care and normal coping skills during all this,” she said. “While I had the option to work from home, I like being in the office.”
Hammerhand is looking at reopening the seating area around May 15.
Even doing business at Liberty City Hall is looking different. Customers who come in are asked to wear masks and on the floor are markers for people to stand 6 feet apart.
City Hall has restricted hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Woodchux Axe Throwing also reopened May 4. Along with reopening the Liberty location, the owners Jon Barton, Kyle Wilson and Gary Campbell are also opening a second location in Excelsior Springs.
Per Clay County requirements, the entertainment facility will only be able to operate at 25% capacity limiting the number of people who can be inside at once.
The owners said the entire building has been sanitized. All high-touch areas will continue to be cleaned and sanitized frequently. All the employees will wear protective equipment.
Michael DePalma’s restaurant The Landing Eatery and Pub plans to reopen mid-month. On Facebook, he said untl then, the restaurant will continue curbside orders.
“We are considering opening May 18, at the earliest. We will continue to provide updates here on social media,” he said on Facebook. “Your health and safety are of utmost importance to us and we look forward to serving you in our dining room soon.”