Rock Co. restaurants make comeback after shelter-in-place order expires

EVANSVILLE, Wis. (WMTV)-- With Rock County’s own shelter-in-place mandate expired, in-person dining is making a comeback.

The Night Owl Pub and Restaurant re-opened for in-person dining on Thursday.

Night Owl Pub and Restaurant in Evansville brought customers inside the first day it could, since closing its doors due to the governor’s “Safer at Home” order. With maximum occupancy at 299, the activity inside was far from that.

“People aren’t actually rushing out to run, to get here first,” Greg Ardisson, the owner of the restaurant, said. “Everybody’s still kind of nervous. We're going to respect that.”

Now in phase one of Rock County’s plan to reopen, health officials recommend businesses to limit capacity down to 25 percent.

Ardisson said, “The problem that we're having right now is if we relegate to 25 percent of our capacity and still have to pay 100 percent of our bills, it doesn't take a very astute mathematician to figure out that that's not sustainable.”

The phased plan also suggests restaurants practice physical distancing and take protective measures.

New practices at The Night Owl include separating parties and disinfecting menus after each use. The restaurant does not require customers or employees to wear masks.

Other restaurants in Evansville’s business district, such as Rock'n Rollz Sandwich Co and Main Street Café, chose not to open in-person dining on Thursday.