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Richard's in Fresno is reopening for indoor dining Oct. 5. File photo

published on October 2, 2020 - 5:25 PM
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After nearly five months of being shut down, a Fresno dining institution will be reopening its doors next week.

Richard’s Prime Rib & Seafood on Belmont Avenue will be open for dine-in beginning Oct. 5. Owner Ben Stockle said he already has the day booked with reservations.

The restaurant, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, did open its doors for the first reopening during the summer, but had to close its doors once again in July.

Stockle said both of the shutdowns were announced on days right after he had restocked the restaurant’s inventory. Since the wasted inventory wasn’t caused by something like a refrigerator malfunction, Stockle can’t claim the spoilage insurance for the items.

Richard’s did sell take-out for a while, and saw a lot of sales for Mother’s Day, but the menu of prime rib, steaks and lobster doesn’t lend itself to that model, and people prefer to dine inside the restaurant for the ambiance.

“Our restaurant is not really feasible for an outdoor dining area — we aren’t in the right area,” Stockle said. “I’d need 24/7 security on it. I had a real hard time charging people $35 for an entrée and trying to get them to take home a steak in a box.”

Even though the fine dining experience has had a wrench thrown in the works, Stockle said people were just happy to be able to sit down in a restaurant during the first reopening.

Summer time is usually a slow time for restaurants, as more people are travelling and grilling at home, but this June before the shutdown was a great month for Richard’s.

Stockle said he was part of the group of restaurants vowing to open on Oct. 1, but a lot of the staff had already left. Fortunately, he didn’t have trouble getting his original staff back to work at the restaurant.

In a normal year, the restaurant would be booked with holiday parties, but since gatherings are limited to 10 people, Stockle said he might have to make some calls for cancellations soon.

Even with the 25% capacity imposed on restaurants, Stockle said that around 60 people would still be able to dine inside the restaurant.

The economic disruption caused by the virus has led to higher beef prices in recent months. During the first reopening, Stockle said that beef prices were incredibly high. Prices have gone down since then, but are still relatively higher than usual, Stockle said.

He is still optimistic with the reopening, despite all the limitations that restaurants are under.

“We are excited to see people again,” Stockle said. “The staff is excited. We’ve been in business for over 51 years and I’m hoping that we could all stay safe and that everybody could follow the rules so that we all stay open.”

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