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Longtime Anchorage restaurant owner hopeful, but ‘fearful’ of winter

Businesses hanging by a thread face additional uncertainty during colder, slower seasons
Published: Aug. 29, 2020 at 11:01 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The four-week reset in Anchorage is almost over, and starting Monday, restaurants and some other businesses will be allowed to return to 50 percent capacity with restrictions.

For Bernadette Bradley, owner and operator of the longtime Anchorage restaurant and bar Bradley House, Friday was a good day.

“All of our tables are full, we have a line of customers out the door,” she said, “so I have no complaints today.”

The sun was shining, and small groups of people were gathered at tables spread apart from one another, all seated outside Bradley House’s main building.

With Bradley House in business since 2000, however, the days haven’t always been like this. Bradley herself opened the restaurant after her family’s business burned down in a fire. Sometimes, it rains, largely ruining business for anyone dependent upon outdoor seating. And these days, Bradley gets angry complaints every so often from people who dislike her particularly tight practices for letting people in: Face masks, temperature checks, and leaving contact information for tracers are all required.

“I decided to do a restaurant that was safe for people who were afraid to go out to restaurants,” Bradley said. “So we are a lot more stricter than a lot of other establishments. And of course, we’ve gotten pushback, but it’s all a learning process.”

Bradley, who is carefully following local emergency orders and limits, said she doesn’t entirely agree with the city’s limitations on bars restaurants. She feels, she said, that many of the people making the decisions about restaurant operations, including Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, may not entirely understand how detrimental the limits could be to a business.

However, city officials have repeatedly said their emergency orders and any changes to them are based primarily on data. So, Bradley is following the rules, and though some people would will away her simple entry requirements if they could, others think her process is perfect.

“She’s kind of gone above and beyond,” said Trenton Hall, a patron on Friday, “to create a comfortable atmosphere for everybody.”

For now, everyone is enjoying the good weather and the food and drinks at Bradley House while they can.

“They’re even using their well-manicured lawn, with people spread out there,” said Michael Perkins, who was dining with his wife at Bradley House on Friday.

Though Bradley said the past few weeks have proven especially difficult - and the updated emergency order won’t help her too much, since she’ll have to keep things outside anyway - she is keeping her head held high, hopeful she’ll be able to keep her doors open.

“With winter coming, that’s fearful,” she said, “but I have no complaints today.”

Bars, restaurants, theaters, breweries and bingo halls can reopen once again on Aug. 28, but will be limited to 50 percent of the building’s capacity and must still follow other guidelines, such as social distancing policies. Businesses will also be required to keep a 30-day list of customers for contact tracing purposes, all indoor customers must be seated and not left to stand or utilize bar tops, and outdoor services are to still be prioritized.

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