BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It’s been over a year since restaurants like Firestone Grill were mandated to shut down due to the pandemic. The eatery strictly followed the state’s COVID-19 guidelines and have only had take-out service since last March, so on Tuesday when it was announced that Kern County was shifting into the red tier, they prepared to welcome back their dine-in guests.

“Following the rules in place was something that we all agreed, all the restaurants agreed to do and we’re happy that we were able to do so throughout and stay afloat,” said Firestone Grill General Manager Cory Billingsley. “We were just trying to do what we felt was best for our employees as well as our customers, we weren’t too concerned about what any other place was doing we just knew we had to do what was best for us and what worked for us.”

When regulations allowed outdoor dining, they allowed guests to have drinks out on the patio, but all orders were mostly to go. As a family-owned business, the shutdown still affected them, and their staff members had to wear multiple hats.

“We had a few people, bartenders and counter people, that would help in the kitchen,” Billingsley said. “They’d bartend and then make a couple of drinks and come right back into the kitchen, and kind of became more versatile, which benefitted us and benefitted them as well and we are appreciative of all of our staff.”

The restaurant has removed bar top seating and has spaced tables across the restaurant. Having seats filled and food on table was a taste of normalcy on Wednesday.

“It’s just good to see families and people that have been regulars since we started that we haven’t seen in a year, or just seen briefly to-go, so to be able to talk to them and have a conversation with them, it was awesome to see,” said Billingsley.

Firestone Grill is expecting a great turn out this weekend since they are in the middle of March Madness.