NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The Fredonia Hotel in Nacogdoches will slowly return to a gathering spot popular with residents as much as visitors.
The Fredonia Hotel's doors have always been open, but since COVID-19 few guests have entered.
"I would say it was a pretty abrupt stop," said Ryan Russell, The Fredonia Hotel assistant manager.
There is a week in March that stands out.
"When all the cancellations started happening we had about a 1000 room cancellations in a week. And that's a lot," recalled Russell.
There were so many vacant rooms that they were offered to health care nurses who chose not to return home out of concern for their family’s health.
Events scheduled into the summer were canceled or postponed.
"Things like weddings, graduation parties, even conferences."}
So, beginning Friday the focus will turn to restaurant guests. Residents are accustomed to gathering poolside with friends and family at 'the hotel', the reference locals give the Fredonia.
"We'll be opening up at 25% occupancy, just for our 1st City Cafe right now and next week we will be opening the Republic Steak House," said Russell.
The Fredonia Hotel, along with hundreds of other restaurants, will follow the Texas Restaurant Promise as set forth by the Texas Restaurant Association.
"We won't have any of our normal things on the table. All the condiments will be off," forewarned Russell as he was pulling off a centerpiece and salt and pepper shakers from a table.
Settings, utensils and menus will also be single-use.
"All of our employees will be wearing masks and gloves and not seating any parties larger than six people," explained Russell.
The measures are necessary. There are still over 100 cases of COVID-19 cases in the community, a threat that may disrupt the appetite of would-be diners at any re-opened restaurant.