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'Is it even worth it?' Restaurant owner says reopening a popular brunch spot during a pandemic is challenging

Cheryl's on 12th is back open for dine-in. Owners Ed and Cheryl Casey say customers will notice a lot of changes when they return to the restaurant.

PORTLAND, Oregon — Cheryl's On 12th is a very popular place to eat brunch in Portland. After closing for dine-in three months ago, the restaurant is now back open.

Owners Ed and Cheryl Casey say customers will notice a lot of changes when they return. Face masks are required, and there's a sign on the door to let you know. There's also a sign for where to enter and exit, and barriers around the outdoor seating area.

Credit: Bryant Clerkley

"You do a lot of things in the restaurant business on a daily basis to protect your customers," Ed Casey said. "So we see these as just additional steps in the current environment."

The Caseys say tables and floors are getting cleaned more. There are also new rules for baristas and the kitchen staff. Customers are no longer allowed to wait in groups, in order to maintain social distance. Cheryl's has also been approved by the city to open seating in the parking spaces outside.

Ed Casey says all these precautions cost money.

"Right now we are carrying four to five extra staff members to ensure the safety protocols and we have less business," Casey said. "That is not really going to work for us in the long haul."

Customers say they are going to remain loyal.

"I think they are keeping us safe and they are wearing their masks," Melisa Guajardo said. "I love how they put our own little section with the flowers and everything and it's very cozy."

But Ed Casey does have questions about the future and how long it will take the restaurant to get back to what it was.

"If it takes a full year to get back to reasonable recovery is it even worth it?," Ed Casey said. "Can I make enough on the backside of it to make the additional investment worth it?"

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