New health directive increases restaurant capacity

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mike Miller, who owns Patrick’s Neighborhood Bar & Patio, says the new health directive offers hope in what has been a tough financial time for local businesses.

“We’ve got a long way to go to get our businesses back to normal along with our community but this is a step in the right direction,” Miller says.

One of the biggest changes in Health Directive 17, which goes into effect Saturday, increases restaurant capacity from 25% to 50%.

“Twenty-five to fifty may not seem like a huge deal but for a lot of folks that’s the opportunity to start taking strides toward paying bills, taking care of employees, doing things of that nature,” he said. “Getting their business on a more even footing.”

Jim LoSapio is Vice President of Operations for River City Management, which manages a few restaurants on Beale Street.

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He says without the usual boost of business from the Liberty Bowl and New Year’s Eve, they’ve been operating at 10 percent of sales.

“We’ve all had to hunker down and kind of get back to our roots and do things we’ve never had to do before like start washing our own linen to survive. Just to save money,” LoSapio said.

The new directive still hasn’t changed it’s 10 p.m. curfew. LoSapio says Beale businesses are losing out on a lot with this.

He says typically, late-night dining makes up for about 40 percent of the restaurants.

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“I think if the health department would have let us have midnight back as opposed to 50 percent, I still think it would have been a bigger jump in sales for us,” he said.

LoSapio says the pandemic has no doubt been impactful in many ways. He says he’s lost employees to suicide while others have had mental breakdowns.

LoSapio says the tough part is balancing hope that comes with this new directive while protecting the community.

“We’ve gotta figure out how to come to a common ground,” he said. “Realize that it’s real but still letting people make a living and survive.”

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