BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Matthew Statham, general manager at Saw’s Soul Kitchen, said eased COVID-19 restrictions announced by Gov. Kay Ivey Thursday won’t change his strategy much at the popular Birmingham barbecue establishment, at least for now.
Statham has been following the recent news out of Texas and Mississippi, where state leaders have lifted mask mandates and business restrictions. While Alabama will not follow suit until April 9, Ivey did announce that the statewide health order would ease restrictions on capacity size for restaurants. Specifically, the state has removed the sitting limit of eight people per table.
“I kind of get the feeling that there’s a whole lot of people that are like: hey, we’ve got to open this up completely,” he said. “And then there’s a whole lot of people that are like: hey, we’re starting to turn the corner in this, so maybe we need to keep the restrictions for a little bit longer.”
Statham said his priority will continue to be on employee safety. The restaurant has operated with limited capacity for several months, wearing masks and encouraging spacing. Even with these restrictions now removed, he doesn’t expect to make an immediate change.
“Personally, I kind of think maybe it’s a little quick to just to go from everybody wearing masks, half capacity to just running full blast,” Statham said. “If they open it up, we may be able to incrementally add some stuff, but I think just for me personally, the health of the guys and girls who work for me are always going to be the most important thing.”
Statham said he can see some semblance of normalcy on the horizon, especially now that people are staring to get vaccinated, but he’s not sure how long it will take him to get comfortable fully opening his restaurant again.
“I think it’s the same with everything,” he said. “We’re going to start easing back into normal life, is kind of our plan. But if that takes weeks, months, I don’t know. We’ll just see how it plays.”