A walk down State Street: Reopening procedures look different at every business

This downtown shopping area gives us good idea of what to expect at other restaurants and retailers

MADISON, Wis. — Businesses are preparing to reopen next week as the Dane County safer-at-home order is lifted and the Forward Dane plan is set in motion.

State Street is one of Madison’s most popular shopping districts and every store there has different rules in place for reopening procedures next week.

“It’s been interesting. It’s been real interesting and crazy,” said owner of Fair Trade Coffee House Thomas Beckwit.

Beckwit bought his company in 2017 with his husband and said he’s never seen it like this before. Beckwit said during this entire pandemic and shut down period, his cafe never closed its doors but did close off the dining area.

As the restrictions loosen next week, Beckwit is eager to open back up to 25% capacity with tables “six feet apart, pretty much against the wall here. Keep this open so people can still feel safe,” he said.

The cleared out dining areas are a common sight at many of the cafes along State Street.

Michelangelo’s did the same thing, and installed plexi glass along the counter with directional arrows throughout the store.

Ian’s Pizza’s communication manager Zachary Chapman said even though the rules will allow the restaurant to open at 25% capacity, they don’t plan on opening their dining area just yet.

“We will not be opening up our dining room until we can have 50% or maybe more,” Chapman said.

Chapman said Ian Pizza is still going to encourage takeout and delivery for the foreseeable future, but they will be amping up safety measures in store with their plexi glass by increasing the height of the current plexi glass in place and installing more near the register.

Chapman also said there will be no community shared cheese and pepper shakers. Instead, those will be handed out as individual packets.

Retail stores and other businesses along State Street all look different from one another other, depending on what type of service they are offering.

Some places are open now, like Karen & Co. Madison, but they didn’t want to comment on what measures they are taking for next week.

Ragstock is also open now. Signs are plastered along the front window display offering free scarves and handkerchiefs to the first 25 customers each day, BOGO sales, optional face masks, social distancing marks in the store and a five person maximum in store policy.

Other places, like Isthmus Tattoo & Social Club are open by appointment only, even after the May 26 reopening date.

The Soap Opera has a sign taped to its door saying they are closed for the foreseeable future. Several other stores along state street have similar signs.

Many stores have a required mask policy, hand sanitizing required upon entry, a limit to the number of people in stores, directional arrows to promote social distancing. Some stores have masks, sanitizer and disinfectant available for customers as well.

Each store will be implementing its own procedures on how to safely reopen. Beckwit said he’s just excited to see customers sitting down in person again.

“It will be good to see people sitting down again, drinking coffee, hopefully laughing,” Beckwit said.

Chapman said he doesn’t know when or if these new measures at Ian’s Pizza will ever go away.

“It’s really hard to say. The virus is unpredictable. Until we have a proven vaccine in place, some of it might have to stick around.”