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Marathon restauranteur will open slowly amid controversy

Marathon restauranteur will open slowly amid controversy Marathon restauranteur will open slowly amid controversy

With the Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday last week declaring Safer at Home rules unenforceable, Kurt Handrick, co-owner of Kurt ‘n Jo’s Eats and Treats, Marathon City, said he’s happy to be able to serve dine-in customers, but that configuring his dining area to accommodate social distancing is complicated and made difficult by the emotional politics that infiltrates the entire situation.

Handrick said he has lost 75 percent of his normal business during the Safer at Home shut-down put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What has saved him, he said, are Friday fish fry sales that have remained at Lenten levels.

“The local people have been very loyal,” he said.

Handrick said he contemplated applying for a Payroll Protection Program forgivable loan through the federal government, but, looking at the rules, decided against it.

Handrick said he planned to reopen his inside dining area on Tuesday this week with a seating arrangement reminiscent of one used on St. Patrick’s Day before mandatory Safer at Home rules went into effect. The restaurant owner said he would cut the number of diner chairs from 96 to 50 and he planned to take out the self-serve salad bar and not use a back dining room. He said his wait staff would wash hands after serving at each table and that no money would be taken from tables, only at the cashier’s counter.

“We will do what we can to prevent cross-contamination,” he said.

Handrick said the Supreme Court decision has some customers applauding, while others are appalled. He finds himself in the middle.

“People are just belligerent and abusive towards others,” he said. “They call each other obscene names. It has turned very political.”

Handrick said he’s happy to have made many take-out fish dinners for Marathon area residents while Safer at Home rules have been in place.

He looks forward, however, to meeting his patrons face to face again.

“I like to walk through the dining room and say hi to everybody,” he said.