BENSON — As Arizona businesses ease into reopening, salons and barbershops were able to resume services on Friday, while restaurants got to restart dine-in operations on Monday. The businesses are following health protection guidelines, with employees wearing masks and gloves and limiting the number of customers inside buildings in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Hair stylist Debbie Padia, owner of ‘Ah Hello Be You Tiful’ salon in Benson, is thrilled to be back in her salon, welcoming customers.
“I was so happy when Gov. Ducey announced that barbers and salons could reopen,” said Padia, a master stylist. “I love being open again and seeing my customers.”
Padia typically does not work Mondays, but after being closed for a month, she plans to work Mondays until she is able to catch up with her appointments.
Some Benson restaurants were closed entirely on Monday, while others were providing take-out service only.
The Horseshoe Cafe was still completely closed, while the Old Benson Ice Cream Stop was open to drive-through business only.
Mi Casa Restaurant owners Andy and Santa Sutton have decided to keep their dining area closed for now, but are continuing curbside services at their restaurant.
“We’ve decided to wait for a couple of weeks to see how all this plays out,” Andy said. “A large percentage of our customers are in the most vulnerable group, so we’re worried about them, our employees and ourselves.”
A tiny restaurant, Mi Casa has eight tables, making social distancing challenging.
“Another problem is we’re having trouble finding the food products that we need because of meat shortages,” Santa said. “All restaurants are having this problem. Our distributors in Tucson can’t find pork and beef, so that has hit us here in our restaurant. From what I understand, it’s like that everywhere.”
The Suttons opened Mi Casa 11 years ago, and feature traditional authentic Mexican cuisine in their small but popular establishment.
It’s a similar situation at 86 Cafe where owners Pedro and Maria Santiago also are only providing curbside and take-out service, at least for now.
“We have owned this restaurant 19 years, but right now, we are open for take out only,” Pedro said. “I think we will keep our dine-in services closed for at least two more weeks to see what happens with the virus.”
Pedro said that he and his wife do not want to reopen their dining room, just to close again if there is a coronavirus resurgence.
“Our business really dropped off because of this,” Pedro noted. “We have three very busy days here, when our restaurant is full. We have fish on Fridays and tacos on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and we lost those crowds when we had to close the restaurant to diners.”
As with other restaurants, Pedro and Maria Santiago are having trouble getting the meat they need from suppliers.
“It’s because the employees at the meat packing plants are sick and they don’t have enough people to work. So, this is a big problem for all restaurants,” Pedro said. “We will be very happy when everything is back the way it was before all this happened. At least we know we can open our dining room again, once we are ready to do that.”
As part of Gov. Ducey’s phased reopening plan for the state, more restaurants throughout area are expected to resume services as the week progresses, and that includes Benson.
“I think many restaurants are still closed to dining because they needed more time to get ready to reopen once they found out it would be OK,” Pedro said.
As part of the reopening process, restaurants must comply with physical distancing between parties, and groups must be limited to 10 or less people as an added protection for customers.