PHOENIX — Restaurants have had to make some tough decisions during the coronavirus pandemic. Some closed temporarily, others permanently. Some transitioned to takeout, while others waited until the state's stay-at-home order was lifted.
For some, including Dori Hand Roll Bar + Ramen, reopening feels like opening for the first time.
"We wanted to transport people into Old World Japan. Kind of a street food feel," said Jason Jantzen, a managing partner at Ahipoki and Dori, a restaurant that specializes in Ramen bowls, sushi, and hand rolls.
His restaurant opened in March near Highland Avenue and 20th Street in Phoenix, a mere weeks before efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 were implemented in Arizona.
"Just kind of a wave of emotions," he said. "That week of March 15 where we really got hit the hardest, from a financial and an emotional standpoint. That news cycle the weekend before the 15 was just awful and shocking."
Jantzen decided to temporarily close his restaurant and had to let go of his staff. Being so new, the restaurant did not yet have the following to sustain a takeout or carry-out business, he said.
Two months later, Arizona's stay-at-home order has been lifted and restaurants have begun to reopen across the state, something Jantzen and his employees have been looking forward to.
"Everyone was 100% into the concept before the shut down and itching to get back. So, yes, crazy to get back," he said. The restaurant opened last week.
Jantzen said they've modified their menu to focus on to-go-friendly items, while also adhering social distancing guidelines.
To start, they've reduced the amount of sushi on the menu, instead focusing more on Ramen and making it more to-go friendly, while also adding some hot dishes.
"Obviously more sanitization policies in place, masks, gloves, social distancing," he said.
Depending on how many customers come in, they hope to open more seating and to eventually expand their sushi menu over the next few weeks. He said they may even throw in some specials, too.
Jantzen also owns Ahipoki, a customized sushi concept that quickly expanded with multiple locations in the Phoenix area in recent years. Four remained open during the pandemic, but a few others were temporarily closed.
He said those restaurants are slowly reopening.
IF YOU GO:
Dori Hand Roll Bar + Ramen
1928 E Highland Ave Suite F-104, Phoenix, AZ 85016
We're Open, Arizona: We know this is a tough time for a lot of people in our community, including local restaurants and businesses. As local spots continue to serve takeout, look for ways to safely do business, and give back to our community, we want to share their stories. Visit abc15.com/open or email us at OpenInAZ@abc15.com.