Ready to rock ‘n’ roll: Eatery eager to reopen for dine-in service

  • Food is delivered Friday to The Fish Hopper where cooks were eagerly awaiting to start working on resupplying the kitchen and preparing for service. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Food is delivered Friday to The Fish Hopper where cooks were eagerly awaiting to start working on resupplying the kitchen and preparing for service. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Sam Johnson, general manager of The Fish Hopper in Kailua-Kona, explains how the restaurant's dining room has been changed to meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines while operating. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

The Fish Hopper restaurant on Alii Drive has been preparing all weekend for its reopening this morning.

The restaurant, after suspended its take-out curbside service in the beginning of April, will open with its full, pre-COVID-19 menu.

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“When we open, the new norm will be curbside service, take out, dine-in and home delivery,” said general manager Sam Johnson.

Staff has been working for days preparing for Monday, social distancing the restaurant. The previous 159 seat capacity dining area has been reduced to 79. The restaurants upper lanai will also be used, extending their dining area and capacity by 16.

Johnson said 80% of the restaurant’s 72 employees will be returning to work.

“We are just very excited. Everybody is hyped up about it,” he said. “On Saturday, we had a two-hour staff meeting to go over best practices so we are ‘COVID ready.’”

In accordance with Gov. David Ige’s eighth supplemental COVID-19 emergency proclamation, Mayor Harry Kim issued an emergency rule that reopens personal services such as hair salons, and restaurants. Places of worship reopened on Saturday.

Although they are allowed to reopen starting Monday, restaurants must comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines while operating. That includes operating at half capacity, as well as rearranging dining areas to allow tables to be spaced 6 feet apart.

Johnson said they are following those guidelines as well as the National Restaurant Association safety guidelines. The Kailua Village restaurant also went through a complete safety sanitation overhaul.

“We were doing the ceilings, the walls, you name it,” he said.

Johnson explained precautions that will be taken including employees starting their shift going through a pre-screening form, and having their temperature taken and receiving face shields.

“Following that they will be sanitizing all of the tables and chairs, so when the guest comes in, they enter with a face mask and are seated. Once they are seated they can remove their face mask and flatware is delivered to the table at that time,” said Johnson. “All of the condiments are single-use items, including salt and pepper.”

He said critical points will be sanitized every hour of operation including equipment, work stations, door handles, screens, and restrooms.

“On top of that, we have an every 15 minutes checklist for the restrooms,” he said.

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The restaurant will be open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“We’re geared up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll,” said Johnson.

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