By Dan Spalding
and Liz Shepherd
WARSAW – Robin Watters, owner of Rex’s Rendezvous in downtown Warsaw, already had his seats at the bar spaced out for social distancing and was hoping the state would lift restrictions quickly, so he was disappointed with Friday’s decision.
Another 11 days, he said.
That’s what Gov. Eric Holcomb said about when bars that serve food can begin to open up – but with the caveat that they maintain social distancing guidelines and keep the capacity at 50 percent.
“I’d like to think it would be different, but you got to think about the safety of everybody,” Watters said. “But it’s really hard on all of us independent businesses.”
He said he was hoping for a complete opening when Holcomb made his much-anticipated decision.
“Hopefully, I can just not have anybody sit at the bar and serve food,” he said. “I do a good food business, so I hope that will work. It’s not making it any easier.”
One of the worst aspects of Friday’s decision is that bars can’t have live entertainment until June 14. Rex’s is one of the few bars that have live bands on weekends in Warsaw. He had already started lining up bands and will now have to cancel those plans.
“It’s going to be a long road,” Watters said.
Watters took the opportunity to do some remodeling during the stay-at-home order. One of the changes is the addition of a large mural along a wall near the front of the bar.
The 16-foot long mural by Marc Eckel, of Blue Spaghetti, is still in progress. It should be done by next week.
Other business owners who spoke Friday afternoon had mixed emotions.
Nathan Underneath, owner of Moving Pictures Tattoo Cinema, a parlor on Center Street, started making some reservations for next week, hoping Holcomb would flip the switch and reopen more quickly.
“Fortunately, for me, everybody’s been really cool with just letting them know, but when all of this happened, I had over a month of appointments to postpone indefinitely,” he said.
His business opened last year and he said the landlord has been cooperative.
Underneath said he’s trying to schedule old appointments while leaving some room for new customers beginning May 11.
“I’m afraid once it’s allowed, it’s just going to be a swarm,” he said.
Some local restaurant managers were excited to slowly open up their public seating areas once more.
“It’ll be exciting, for sure,” said Alexis Diaz, Etna Green Café manager. “We miss seeing our regulars every day and it’ll be nice to see everyone’s faces again.”
During Holcomb’s restrictions on dine-in services at restaurants, the café has operated through delivery and drive-thru services.
But numerous businesses declined to offer a comment, and some directed questions to corporate offices.
That was the case with Mad Anthony’s Lake City Tap House, a bar and restaurant in downtown Warsaw.
A manager declined to comment. But a display outside of the store’s entrance (below) summed up their feelings. They’re eager.