For the first time in two months, you’ll find people enjoying a meal at one of the tables at Molly's Souper in downtown Upland.
Owner Mere de los Santos has been preparing for this day for weeks. He’s been spacing out tables, installing hand sanitizing stations, and making adjustments to allow for dining-in since San Bernardino County got the green light to do so on Saturday.
“I’m jumping to the kitchen, checking to make sure everything is ready,” de los Santos said. The excitement, he said, kept him up at night.
Paper menus, condiments in packets and disposable utensils are what customers like the Lewis family found during their first meal at a restaurant since the restrictions were put in place.
“It’s definitely different seeing people wearing masks and stuff, but we're just happy to support a small business,” Fontana resident Lauren Lewis said.
To de los Santos, even with the masks, this business is a dream come true.
He had worked at Molly’s Souper for 20 years, starting as a busboy and working his way up to manager, before his boss sold it to him. But that happened just weeks before the state ordered a shut down.
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“He has the feeling that he may not have been able to financially coordinate in this time, so that it happened at exactly the right time is how he looks at it. He always [looks on the positive side],” former owner Molly Brouse said.
That’s how de los Santos is looking at the restaurant today. Even with a dip in business, he’s happy to have his 25 employees back and his customers dining in.
“I’m happy. I missed my customers, I missed my employees, I missed everybody,” he said.