PORTLAND, Ore. — The iconic former 24-hour downtown Portland diner, The Roxy, is back open.
On Sunday, The Roxy opened its doors to customers again at 10 a.m. after remodeling and updating how the business operates under new COVID-19 guidelines. It is one of several businesses trying to find a way to stay open amidst the public health and safety challenges.
Located on Southwest Harvey Milk Street, The Roxy's Facebook page says they're located "In the heart of the glamour district."
The diner's decision to reopen is a small bit of welcome news for the restaurant industry during a time when many have closed their doors.
Due to a spike in coronavirus cases, Governor Kate Brown announced new restaurant restrictions which will take effect in five counties, including Multnomah, which can only have a maximum of 50 people inside at one time, including staff, starting Wednesday, Nov. 11.
The diner made the announcement of their re-opening, on their Facebook page, with a picture of the remodel in progress.
It also helps that the diner received a Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) PBOT Healthy Business Permit. This allows the diner to use the two parking spaces in front for outdoor seating. Numerous restaurants in Portland have used the program to get permission for more outdoor space.
And with colder weather ahead, the permit could not have been approved sooner, said the diner's owner, Suzanne Hale.
A neighboring restaurant and catering company, Cheryl's on 12th, built five greenhouse-type structures, which allow the diner to serve almost twice as many people. They also have approved propane heaters letting customers stay warm, dry and carefully distanced.
"We truly believe this will make all the difference, and I'm beyond grateful to the City of Portland for pushing these through. They made it easy to get them. There was no fee or anything," Hale said.
She said this will allow the diner to keep going through the pandemic.
The diner also wants to decorate the outdoor seating to go with their funky avant-garde theme.
"We are tickled to refer to them as "Munch-hausens By Roxy."
The Roxy has made renovations inside as well, installing in plexiglass and remodeling their bathrooms and kitchens.
Another first for the formerly-24-hour diner is that it can only be open until 10 p.m. The servers also sanitize and disinfect menus, pens, and anything else customers touch along with requiring wearing face masks for staff and diners.
The Roxy will also be doing temperature checks on everyone, including staff.
As for thoughts on COVID-19 and the business said, "First and foremost, safety is our biggest priority, of course," said Hale.
"We used to be a 24-hour diner, and we can currently only be open until 10 p.m. The night shift, when the bars closed, used to be the shifts that paid the rent. I don't know how these limited hours will affect us," Hale said.
The owner of the diner says she has also distanced tables in the dining room and they aren't using their bar stools at the counter. The Roxy has updated replacing 100-year-old finished wood with stainless steel or porcelain tile because it can be sanitized thoroughly.
"All these things cost money, and some restrict sales, but someday this will be over. "
The diner has been closed for six months and Hale said of the reopening, "It feels like we are opening a whole new restaurant."
Hale also added that longtime General Manager April Shattuck, who has been with the restaurant since it opened 26 years ago, has done an amazing job with the reopening operations.