WENTZVILLE — Detox Yoga is opening on Monday, mats spaced 6 feet apart.
The studio closed on March 18 and shifted to online classes. But now, with Gov. Mike Parson opening Missouri for business and St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann following suit, Detox owner April Elliott is making the stretch.
“If we don’t reopen and start bringing in some revenue, we will never reopen,” Elliott said.
St. Louis and St. Louis County officials are keeping their restrictions. But businesses across St. Charles County, the state’s third-most populous county — after St. Louis County and Kansas City’s Jackson County — are prepping to restart, after the coronavirus lockdown shut doors and dried up bank accounts.
Ehlmann never really boarded up businesses. He issued an executive order on March 23 requiring residents to remain home except to go to work or to engage in activities they deemed “necessary to their physical, mental or spiritual well-being.” He left it up to residents to determine what was essential.
But this week, with about 580 cases and 34 deaths — half the toll of St. Louis — Ehlmann encouraged closed businesses to reopen, with restrictions: Keep people 6 feet apart. Fill with no more than 25% of building occupancy, or just 10% if larger than 10,000 square feet.
Some businesses, from restaurants to retail stores, applauded the move.
“I think the feeling in St. Charles County is, ‘Give us guidelines and let us operate,’” said Scott Tate, president and chief operating officer of the Greater St. Charles County Chamber of Commerce.
April Moxley, owner of April’s on Main and Designs by Ave, both on Main Street in downtown St. Charles, is putting out hand sanitizer, keeping the public restroom closed, encouraging customers and employees to wear masks and posting signs telling customers where to stand — she doesn’t want to put down tape that could damage the old, wood floors.
“I don’t have the option of working from home,” Moxley said. “I have to pay my employees and pay my rent.”
Some restaurants are opening their dining rooms.
Krawl Daddy’s on Main Street usually can seat 100. Owner Matt Richter said he plans to open Monday for 25 inside, and 30 on the patio — “just enough to barely make it work.”
Andrew Brewer plans to open his Cottleville restaurants Plank Road Pizza and 1798 BBQ to diners on Tuesday.
“We struggled with it, to be honest,” Brewer said. “Do we do it or do we not?”
Both restaurants also feature more seating on their patios than in their dining rooms.
“So we’re imagining that most of our guests will probably be outside anyway,” Brewer said. “But we’re going to follow the same rules outside that we are inside.”
Other businesses aren’t convinced.
“It doesn’t feel safe at this time,” said Stephanie Hofmeister, owner of Cloud Nine massage center in O’Fallon. Massages are just too close, in too small of a space for too long, she said.
Hofmeister had to lay off employees after business dropped 90%, she said. She has faith she’ll be able to open when the time is right.
Tom Schmidt, owner of barbecue restaurant Salt + Smoke, on Main Street, said he is eager to return to normal operations but needs to make sure his customers and employees are safe.
Mission Taco Joint owner Adam Tilford said he would rather focus on takeout orders than opening the doors.
“Mission Taco is a dining experience, and trying to rush to get back open to give people a poor dining experience, not the Mission Taco Joint experience, is just not something we’re prepared to do at this time,” Tilford said.
Stone Soup Cottage owners Carl and Nancy McConnell are in no rush to reopen, either.
The Cottleville restaurant used to require reservations months in advance. But the delivery service the restaurant launched after its dining room closed — dinner for two with wine, stemware and candles included — has been a success.
“We do fully intend to reopen at some point, but I think Nancy and I are just going to lay low,” McConnell said. “We’re good where we are, and we’re just going to see how all of that works out.”
Meanwhile, Elliott, the owner of Detox Yoga, is getting everything ready to open.
She’ll limit each class to 14 people, although there’s normally room for 30. Class participants will be spaced so their heads are 6 feet apart, and, because everyone moves together through the class, they should stay separated.
People can bring a mat and towel, but that’s it. Studio items, such as blocks and straps — or its showers — won’t be allowed. And no cool towels with lavender essential oils at the end of class, either.
Still, said Elliott, a single mom who quit her teaching job to open the studio, she’s heard from her customers:
”The clients are ready,” she said. “They’re chomping at the bit.”
Daily updates on the latest news in the St. Louis business community.