'We can only do so much.' Local bar owners ask customers to take safety precautions when going out

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 18:41:15-04

SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Now that bars and restaurants are open, they find themselves not only serving up food and drinks, but enforcing capacity, social distancing and mask rules.

Some businesses say they're doing everything they can to keep staff and customers safe and to keep their doors open, but they need customers to do their part, too.

Coyote Joe's in Shelby Township expanded their patio from 2,000 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet, and took a big hit being closed for months.

Joe Hellebuyck, who owns Coyote Joe's, wants to make sure his staff and customers stay safe not only because he cares, but because he wants to keep his doors open

Video from Thursday on social media shows people gathered and close inside the bar, but Hellebuyck said he's doing everything he can to keep guests 6 feet apart.

Those include blue signs everywhere you look telling people to social distance.

The bar also removed bar stools and tables to prevent congregating and took out pool tables and foosball tables

Hand sanitizer is placed throughout the bar, and staff is reminding people to socially distance as they enter.

Also, for the first time in 30 years, Hellebuyck had to implement measures to control crowds even before they enter.

"We’ve blocked the driveway off at the road not letting anyone in. Last night we had to do that we had a line of probably a hundred people to get in here," he said.

Other bars and restaurants are facing challenges. Video shows people lined up outside of Como's in Ferndale.

"I was hoping that attendees patrons of bars and restaurants would wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from people but after I posted that I was thinking about the responsibility of the restaurant owners too," Nicole LaDouceur-Janowicz said.

Dozens of COVID-19 cases are linked to a bar in East Lansing.

Hellebuyck says he really needs customers to step up.

"We can only do so much. They have got to help out and do the best they can too," he said.

Coyote Joe’s now has a more than 3,000 square-foot patio along the Clinton River. It’s tough to pay the bills maintaining just 50% capacity so the owner is expanding his hours too. Opening now on the weekends at 1 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. 4 PM on Fridays.

For the first time this weekend, he has food trucks available for people to purchase food and sit outside near the river and listen to acoustic music.

From 1 PM until 9 PM on the weekends people can bring their kids.

It’s a new element of his business added to make the most of his location Along the Clinton River and serve more people while keeping everybody safe.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.