By Maggie Sharpe
Creekside Grill owner Stan Gedeon was ready to go when Contra Costa County issued a new “red tier” health order on Sept. 29, reflecting an improvement in COVID-19 numbers.
The order eases restrictions on many businesses, including permitting indoor dining in restaurants at 25% capacity.
Just one day later, Creekside Grill was serving happy customers in the dining room, bar area and the restaurant’s foyer, which has been converted into a second dining room.
“Everything is ready to go,” Gedeon said. “We have nine tables in the main dining room, four tables for two in the bar, and five tables in the foyer.”
At lunchtime on Sept. 30, five of the nine tables in the main dining room were occupied.
With GRF’s blessing, Creekside Grill has also taken over the club rooms. There are two dining tables set up in the Bunker Room, four tables in the Fairway Room and some comfortable lounge chairs set around tables in the Club Room.
“The Club Room serves as a waiting area where people can sit and have a cocktail or while they’re waiting to be seated for a meal,” Gedeon said.
Director of Resident Services Jeff Matheson has authorized the restaurant to use the club rooms until such times as club meetings and banquets resume in person, he added.
The Mulligan Room is also getting use. It’s the restaurant’s take-out and delivery hub, with storage for hot and cold meals, which staff can run out to the customer’s car.
With increased inside use comes more use of the bathrooms.
“Our staff cleans the bathrooms, on the hour, every hour, including handles and doors,” Gedeon said. “It’s all quite an adventure.”
The reopening was just in the nick of time as Sept. 30 was a particularly smoky day from fires burning in Napa and Sonoma counties.
Joyce Stewart, who has lived at Rossmoor since 2006, was having lunch indoors at Creekside Grill with her daughters Debbie Fabbri and Donna Colombo.
“This is a nice alternative for people who are sensitive to the air quality,” said Stewart, adding that Creekside Grill has done a great job of keeping business going during the pandemic.
“It’s great if they keep it spaced like this,” Fabbri said. “It’s cooler, and there’s no smoke.”
Jerry Tileston was sitting outside enjoying the special of the day, a garlic chicken pesto sandwich.
“I prefer to eat inside, especially when there’s smoke, but I didn’t realize the inside was open to diners,” Tileson said.
Gedeon said there were plans for a Nixle notice to residents informing them that indoor dining is now available, but he just wanted to take the first day to streamline the logistics of reopening.
Outside, the grill has added some cosmetic attractions. It’s put up a big white tent on the Golf Shop patio, erected canopies over the front patio (across from the Event Center), and strung hanging lights over all three patios.
In anticipation of winter cold, there are now heat lamps on the patios, and umbrellas in addition to the tent and canopies.
“Our guests love the new outside awning and lighting,” Gedeon said. “We hope to keep some of that – people love dining outside under the lights.”
By the numbers
Despite creative efforts, business at Creekside Grill is 30% of what it was before COVID-19 struck.
“That 30% includes all our current business – outdoor dining, hot and cold food for pickup or delivery, and our grocery-shopping service,” Gedeon said.
Creekside Grill has retained about 65% of its staff through the COVID crisis.
“We had a meeting with staff a couple of weeks ago,” Gedeon said. “Hopefully, we can bring back the rest of the staff soon. They’re excited to get back to work.”
Resident Robbee Royce was waiting to be seated for lunch on the first day of the restaurant’s reopening last week.
“I usually like to eat outside, but the air quality is so bad today,” Royce said. “This is good news that we can sit inside again – it’s a sign that we’re on our way back. Especially with the holidays coming, it’s nice to know something good is starting to happen.”
Creekside Grill is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., serving lunch and dinner. There’s live music on the patio Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. There are lunch and dinner specials daily, including Fish Day Fridays and Tex Mex Mondays. For reservations, call 925-949-8658. The club rooms can be reserved for family-only private gatherings.
Purple to red
The easing of restrictions comes after the county qualified to move into the less – restrictive red tier (“substantial” spread of COVID-19) of the state’s four-tiered, color-coded reopening system. Contra Costa had been in the state’s purple or “widespread” tier, the most restrictive.
“The credit really belongs to the residents of Contra Costa, who have adapted to the new normal and modified their lifestyles to reduce the spread of COVID in the county,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, in a news release.
Restrictions on other businesses have also been eased:
• Places of worship, movie theaters and museums can be operated indoors at 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less.
• Gyms can reopen indoors at 10% capacity.
• All personal care services, including massage, can move indoors.
• Indoor shopping malls can operate at 50% maximum occupancy (instead of 25%). Food courts can also open following the state’s guidelines for restaurants.
• Indoor retail stores can now operate at 50% capacity (instead of 25%).
In order to move into the less-restrictive red tier, the county had to see average new daily case rates drop below 7 per 100,000 people and testing positivity rates dip below 8%.
For the past two weeks, Contra Costa has met those benchmarks. As of Sept. 29, the new case rate was 6.7 per 100,000 people and the testing positivity rate was 3.7%.
Health officials caution that COVID is still circulating in the community and people should continue to take all the same precautions health officials have been advising for months: Wear face coverings in public, maintain physical distancing, wash hands frequently and stay home if you’re sick.
For more information about COVID-19 in Contra Costa, visit cchealth.org/coronavirus.