LAKE OF THE OZARKS, Mo. (KMIZ)
Some businesses at the Lake of the Ozarks have seen an increase in customers amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ahead of Memorial Day weekend.
Thad Jameson Director of Sales at Big Thunder Marine Family Boating Center said business is booming and it has throughout the pandemic as people escape to the lake.
Jameson said Big Thunder Marine Family Boating Center found new ways to conduct business while adhering to Missouri's reopening guidelines.
Jameson said employees have embraced the regulations since the beginning of the pandemic. He said they realized they had to practice social distancing and change the way they did business.
"We provided online virtual tours of boats," Jameson said. "Invited customers to come in after-hours or in private rooms, took boats to their docks, did a bunch of things outside the ordinary to try to adapt to it.
Jameson said Big Thunder sales have increased 30% over last year and continue to see a surge.
"We anticipate a lot of traffic this weekend," Jameson said. "We have 20 more deliveries happening over the next four days, the spontaneous ones can pile on top of that, so we're really excited about it."
Jameson said customers are ready to get out on the lake and enjoy family time as boating is a great activity to enjoy while still practicing social distancing.
Brent Boyles, the owner of Michael's Steak Chalet, said his business is also booming while his restaurant focuses on social distancing and ensuring employees wear masks and gloves.
Boyles said he has had customers call ahead to see if they are practicing social distancing rules and asking if employees are wearing masks.
Boyles said his restaurant is now reservation only and that social distancing plays a role in the number of reservations available.
"We seat about 60 people inside in our dining room upstairs and about 25 downstairs," Boyles said. "So, because of social distancing, the inside seating is cut in half. We're lucky enough to have a large patio so I can see one hundred people outside."
Boyles said the difficulty is knowing how many reservations to allow as most of the seating is outside and the weather could easily affect whether that is possible or not.
Boyles said reservations for his business are nearly full for the holiday weekend. He said social distancing will play a role in how tables are spaced and how many people are allowed at a table.
“This weekend there's a family coming in," Boyles said. "And I believe there's 12 of them. So, we told them we would sit them at two tables side by side. I know it kind of seems silly but, we're following the rules we're not supposed to see more than 10 people at a table."
Boyles said he was pleasantly surprised at how busy his restaurant is but other than following social distancing guidelines with limited seating, he said it feels like everything is back to normal.