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Lift of mask mandate means looking at smiling faces for KC's Steakhouse

Dropping masks means seeing smiles again.
KC Steakhouse
Posted at 5:29 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 20:37:45-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — With the mask mandate lifted, we can drop our masks not only when eating indoors but entering a restaurant in general.

KC’s Steakhouse is starting to look like it did before the pandemic. Servers are no longer wearing masks, and neither are those in the kitchen.

Something else you might notice, smiling faces. It’s something that their owner, Cassie said she’s missed seeing.

"It's the rollercoaster of it all, I think everyone's just tired of the back and forth," said Cassie Bittle, Owner of KC’s Steakhouse.

Cassie Bittle has owned KC’s Steakhouse for a decade, like many Kern County restaurant owners, her family has dealt with tons of shifts during the past two years of the pandemic.

Bittle did not require customers to mask up during the recent indoor mandate, but her employees deciding to wear them. According to health officials, that needs changing Wednesday.

“The state’s masking mandate officially reverts to pre-surge requirements, no longer requiring those that are fully vaccinated to mask indoors," Brynn Carrigan, Kern County Public Health Director.

Carrigan reported another change, a 30% drop in the county’s COVID case rate from last week. It’s not at 53.5%.

For Bittle, dropping masks means seeing smiles again.

“A huge part of this industry as a whole is being a family and being able to embrace people, needing that smile, when you’ve had a bad day or whether you’re trying to celebrate, whatever it may be.”

Two of those “family members”, Glenda Geisel and Mike Perling, come to visit often.

It’s a routine they kept up throughout the pandemic, doing whatever they could to keep it open. For Glenda, KC's has been a staple for 50 years.

“It’s so familiar. I was born in Bakersfield but grew up in Taft. But there’s restaurants around there I grew up around that have the red leather [like this] so this place feels like home.”

While the masks are gone, for KC's certain COVID precautions are here to stay even when the pandemic is over.

It does not get more official than a COVID-19 safety checklist laminated on the wall. KC’s Steakhouse has bullet pointed the precautions they have been keeping up with.

Temperature checks for employees on arrival and using hand sanitizer after every task. There’s 15 points on here.

Even as they’ve dropped the masks, a lot of these efforts are here to stay, including strict sanitization efforts.

As the restaurant’s owner, Bittle points out, health and safety were a must for them and people in the restaurant in general before the pandemic. Even now going forward, they’re taking things to the next level.

“We had charts in the bathrooms where we were cleaning the bathrooms every fifteen minutes versus every hour. To make sure everything was cleaned properly. Wiping down the doors as customers came in and out so taking those extra steps just to make sure people were safe, are things we’re going to continue to do.”

She said not only did those practices work, but they were good for business. It’s something she says we’ve seen everywhere that will probably stay, like wiping down shopping carts at the grocery store.

She also recommends the public practice similar sanitization efforts at home as much as they do in the public.

Public health still requires unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors.