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Some restaurants prepare to welcome back those dining in, while others will stay curbside

Gennaro Rusciano heats up the oven at Rusciano's Authentic Taste of Napoli in North Liberty on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Marlon Hall/KCRG)
Gennaro Rusciano heats up the oven at Rusciano's Authentic Taste of Napoli in North Liberty on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Marlon Hall/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: May. 14, 2020 at 5:07 PM CDT
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Starting tomorrow morning, all restaurants across eastern Iowa can get back to serving dine-in customers- but they are limited to 50% capacity.

Ownership at some of those restaurants are eager to open up, but others say despite getting the go-ahead, they are not ready or comfortable yet.

Over the last two months, Janet Ball, a co-owner at Midtown Family Restaurant in Iowa City, admits she and her co-workers have taken a pretty big cut in business.

"We closed at noon on March 17," Ball said. "And our doors have been locked to customers since then."

While they waited, it gave them time to prepare.

"Cleaning, sanitizing, putting new floors in, putting some stainless steel in," Ball said, explaining it was easier for them to get some things done while the kitchen was closed down.

But starting Friday, they open up for the first time in 57 days- giving them even more to prepare.

"You squawk at only being able to do 50%," Ball said. "50% is more than we've done."

For a restaurant that has not taken a to-go order, getting permission to reopen, is an order they are happy to take.

"It gives you hope that the world isn't as bad as sometimes you look at it," Ball said.

While some see a chance to start from scratch- for others, that will not be the case for them on Friday.

"We don't really feel comfortable still to keep everybody, including the staff and customers and everybody else, safe enough to be able to open," said Gennaro Rusciano, the co-owner of Rusciano's Authentic Taste of Napoli in North Liberty.

Rusciano is living out his dream: cooking wood-fired food in his North Liberty restaurant. But the things he cooks will only be served curbside.

"We don't really want to rush anything," Rusciano said. "There is no need. We're thankful to the community again, we're doing pretty well."

Rusciano wants to bring back diners in the restaurant. It's the reason his restaurant is designed the way it is, with the oven in the dining room so he can introduce himself and show off his work to those eating in.

"I'm a showman," Rusciano said. "I like to be in the show. This is not a show for me."

And the show will go on for all restaurants- but for some, not yet.

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