JACKSON, Mich. — Restaurant owners are rejoicing that Michigan's dine-in restrictions will ease up next week allowing them to serve a limited number of guests indoors.
But, for the owner of Night Light it's interesting timing.
“The economy was bangin'. Downtown Jackson was booming," said Joe Brandeberry who has owned downtown Jackson's Night Light since 2018.
"Then COVID hit," he said.
Brandeberry estimates he's lost $150,000 to $200,000 in revenue since the shutdown back in November.
“This is not a bad business decision that we made," said Brandeberry. "This is something that’s been forced on us. So if you’re forcing someone to do something I hope you have some help for us, you know?”
Loyal customers are trying to help as much as possible.
“Yeah, I mean it’s one of our favorite places," Night Light frequenter James Morehouse said. "I mean you just come over here and get a drink or come over on your lunch.”
But, it hasn't been enough.
So, he got creative and invested $3,000 in a chateau for outdoor seating. It opened last week, the day after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that restaurants would be able to resume limited indoor dining on Feb. 1.
"I am happy I did that because we can only open at 25 percent," said Brandeberry.
"You know outside we’re able to socially distance and have, you know 15 tables in our area because the city of Jackson has helped support the patio area out there for us but with COVID you know we have to have cover and all we can get out there is two buildings and all you can put is six people in there," he said. "So imagine we can have 40 people out there instead of 12, that’s quite a difference in revenue."
Brandeberry plans on keeping his chateau open past Feb. 1. to allow for extra seating. Staff members say they'll take what they can get.
“We’re going to have to turn away people at times," said assistant manager and bartender Matt Webb. "But, unfortunately that’s just how it’s going to be. And it’s rough too because the customers become your friends and family and to have to turn them away. It’s going to be fun."
He pauses to laugh.
"It’s not going to be fun,” he said.
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