St. Louis restaurants face uncertainty amid rise in COVID-19 cases


ST. LOUIS — As 2021 ends, there’s more fear than excitement for some restaurants about the future of the industry. 

“We’re thinking about whether or not we might have to shut down again, which will be unfortunate, but we want to keep everybody safe,” said Ania Cunningham. 

Cunningham is the manager at Layla Bar and Restaurant in The Grove. She says they have always required masks but are thinking about more precautions. 

“Carry out, curbside, delivery. We did it last time. We have no problem doing it again. It’s scary and nerve-racking especially when we have people fighting us just to put on a mask,” Cunningham said.

This comes as COVID-19 cases surge in the Show-Me State. In St. Louis, hospitals have more than 700 patients as of Tuesday getting treated for COVID, which is the highest number of patients recorded in 11 months. 

On the Delmar Loop, restaurant, bar, and music venue Blueberry Hill is even taking precautions ahead of the new year.

“On New Year’s Eve, we will be open. But I’m not having a band this year in Blueberry Hill’s ‘Duck Room’ because people kind of get close together when a band’s playing,” said owner Joe Edwards.”It’s just as a precautionary thing I decided to do for New Year’s Eve here.”

No matter what the situation turns out to be, restaurants hope customers keep coming. 

“It’s really hard. It’s scary, and it’s anxiety-inducing just because there’s so much unknown. Your employees rely on you for what to do, and I really don’t know what to do right now,” Cunningham said.

Union Loafers on The Grove is also going patio dining and takeout only. Taco Buddha off of Delmar Boulevard is also doing carry-out and patio only as well. 

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