Mother Hubbard's Restaurant in Buellton is one of many area restaurants now welcoming indoor diners after COVID-19 restrictions were loosened in Santa Barbara County recently.

The county moved from the most-restrictive purple to the less-restrictive red tier on March 17 after the state hit a key vaccination target. As a result, restaurants now can host indoors diners at 25% capacity. 

Walter Shull, a server of seven months said that after a loss of personal income since Mother Hubbard's shutdown from December through February, he's glad to be serving patrons again. 

"I was willing to take a pay cut just to get back to work," he said. "No, really, I'm just happy to be working again."

In Lompoc, Valle Eatery & Bar, located inside the Hilton Garden, has seen a slow trickle of indoor diners since reopening, according to General Manager Sylvia Lizarde.

"We're slowly gaining business back," Lizarde said. "It's been a harder transition this time, as far as having diners come back out."

Lizarde said the restaurant continues to follow strict county health guidelines by arranging tables at a socially distanced 6 feet and seating people in separate sections of the dining area, or offering outdoor seating.

"We've seen more people coming out for lunch," she said, noting that a mix of hotel customers and locals are opting to dine in. "Friday, there were even more people."

Some restaurant owners, however, are not ready to change course.

Citing safety reasons, Bob Oswaks, owner and boulanger at Bob's Well Bread Artisanal Bakery in Los Alamos and Ballard, announced on March 18 via social media that the decision to limit dining to outdoor-only is based on giving staff ample time to get vaccinated. 

"Our indoor dining is pretty small in both locations, and with the nice weather and only serving breakfast and lunch, we think our outdoors is still the safest way for us to serve you," the announcement read.

peasants FEAST indoor shot3

New custom banquettes, hand-built dining room tables and an inside bar feature await the public at peasants FEAST in Solvang. Owners Michael and Sarah Cherney will hold off revealing the restaurant's new and expansive interior space until the county's indoor dining regulations allow for increased capacity.

Solvang eatery peasants FEAST, which will celebrate one year of business on April 1 with an outdoor pig roast on-site, has yet to invite patrons inside after opening just weeks after initial COVID-19 shutdowns. 

According to a restaurant spokeswoman, owners Michael and Sarah Cherney will hold off revealing the restaurant's new and expansive interior space until the county's indoor dining regulations allow for increased capacity.

Both outdoor dining and takeout will remain in place, the spokeswoman noted. 

Despite the wait to fully reopen, chef Michael Cherney credits the steadfast support of locals who have helped them navigate a year of "ups and downs, openings and closings."

“We knew that opening at the very beginning of a pandemic was a huge risk, but we felt the need to take it," Cherney said, "mainly, in support of our friends and neighbors, the local farms, fishermen and ranchers, all of whom have, in turn, shown us tremendous love throughout this past year."

Lisa André covers lifestyles and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record. 

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