Old Town’s Temecula Stampede and Baily’s work to provide a safe atmosphere for guests due to COVID-19

The Stampede
Social distancing can be a problem on the dance floor at venues such as the Temecula Stampede. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

With 6,000 square feet and a large dance floor – can social distancing be maintained?

According to The Temecula Stampede in Old Town Temecula, the answer is yes, and they hope to open their doors soon.

Administrative manager Steven Merems and staff have been working to ensure social distancing guidelines as they coincide with the county.

“It’s a big building,” Merems said of The Temecula Stampede. “Social distancing here, while it’s a challenge on the dance floor, is pretty easy to obtain just on the floor in general.”

Merems added that the entire establishment’s occupancy is around 958 people at one time.

“We’ve never come close to our capacity,” Merems said, adding that 450 people is about the most they’ve had at one time.

“We figure as long as we keep it under about 400 people, which is less than half our occupancy we should be able to maintain some semblance of social distancing,” Merems said.

They took out half of the tables and chairs.

“I went through with a tape measure and measured 9 feet between all the tables,” Merems said. “That gives you a foot and a half from each table and then 6 feet between, like a walking path.”

Merems also added a plexiglass protective barrier for those walking in, as well as for the person working the register.

“All our employees will be wearing masks,” Merems said, adding that they’ll also be implementing a hand-washing schedule on top of employees already regularly washing their hands.

“Regardless whether you just washed your hands five minutes ago or not, every 20 minutes we’re going to have all employees wash their hands,” he said.

They will also be scanning temperatures at the door, as well as posting caution reminders.

“We went and we spent quite a bit of money on some nice metal signs saying be aware of your distance, that type of thing,” Merems said. “A bunch of them say different things, but they all get the same message across: pay attention to your surroundings and wash your hands.”

There will also be masks for purchase if anyone wants one.

Merems said he believes everyone will be respectful of boundaries and following guidelines.

“We have a lot of military servicemen and women in here and they’re all very respectful,” Merems said. ‘If someone says ‘hey you’re too close to me can you back up a little bit’ no one is going to have a problem with that.”

Merems said they were trying to open Thursday, June 11, and if not, then they would the following week, June 18.

Another local nightclub and restaurant in Old Town, Baily’s has been working to maintain social distancing as they opened June 5.

Gabe Gonzales, Baily’s food and beverage director, said they have been trying to adapt as best as possible.

“This last Friday we opened back up for takeout and dine in,” Gonzales said. “We had been closed completely up to that point since the beginning of the shutdown.”

They opened back up with a limited menu for takeout or dine in, along with family meals for four for takeout only. So far they’ve received positive feedback, he said.

“All the tables are spaced 6 feet apart,” Gonzales said. “We are fortunate enough to have a fairly decent amount of space to work with, so we’ve been impacted maybe slightly less than some of the other places that are a bit smaller in terms of size of dining room.”

They have their downstairs dining room open and a little bit of seating along the front side of the restaurant facing the street side, according to Gonzales.

“Our patio is currently under construction so we don’t have any seating out there right now,” Gonzales said. “We had a previously planned construction project that is underway. That should be done in a few weeks, and it’ll be nice once we can get that back open.”

They also have a balcony upstairs that they’re seating as well.

They are enforcing masks for their staff, but highly recommending it to guests and not enforcing it if they choose not to follow the recommendations.

“There’s signage posted at the front that says that we do highly recommend that in between going to and from the tables,” Gonzales said. “Once you’re at your table it’s not necessary, but going to and from the tables, when you’re coming in and out, getting up to use the restroom is recommended.”

They’ve also changed a bit of their service to minimize the amount of contact.

“We have orders being taken at the front, and we’re letting guests choose the table that they’re most comfortable to sit at,” Gonzales said. “We bring the food out to them, and the drinks out when it’s ready.”

They also are packaging everything in to-go containers, even if guests decide to dine in.

“We’re serving everything in to go containers, so that it’s easy for guests to just decide if they want to do takeout they can just close it up and take it right with them if they want,” Gonzales said.

Both places are working to ensure guests can enjoy themselves while following safety precautions.

“I know a lot of people down here, a lot of small businesses,” Merems said. “I know a lot of them who are filing for bankruptcy and permanently closing their doors through this stuff, they just can’t afford to stay open.”

Merems said that they have their board of owners to thank.

“Our board of owners are all very educated business people, and for the last 25 years, they’ve been developing an emergency fund that we were able to tap into to survive it,” Merems said of the sudden shutdown that has caused many places to close for good. “If we didn’t have that emergency fund, we wouldn’t have survived it either.”

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at lhowe@reedermedia.com.