COLUMBIA, S.C.—At the 4:45 p.m. huddle before Saluda’s reopened its dining room, owner Steve Cook thanked his staff for their patience and explained how the restaurant had changed from the one they left 55 days before.

Diners would be seated at every other table. Sanitized silverware wrapped in napkins replaced elaborate place settings, and bottles of hand sanitizer formed the centerpiece. Vases of roses marked the tables kept vacant. By the hostess stand, a Champagne bucket held cleaning solution.

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