ST. LOUIS ( -- You may need a COVID-19 vaccination before going to some of your favorite St. Louis spots. The Gramophone is the latest establishment requiring customers to be vaccinated and requesting proof.

Some other city restaurants and bars are starting to require it for indoor dining. 

"I think it's a great idea," Judy Fisher, who's vaccinated, said. She said she still prefers to sit outside even in these hot, humid temperatures.

"I'm always a little leery, always wondering, keeping that distance," Fisher said.

Fisher says she'd feel better knowing everyone, where she is, is vaccinated. That's exactly the environment Bengalina Hospitality Group says they're trying to create. Ben Poremba - owner of the group and its 10 establishments across St. Louis - said he wants to keep his business open. 

"We're going to require vaccination for indoor dining at all of our establishments, and we're going to require proof of vaccination to employees in order to be employed for us. We're not refusing service, we're just limiting them for outdoor dining," Poremba said. 

Bengalina Hospitality Group includes AO&Co Market and Cafe, Nixta, Olio, Elaia, The Benevolent King, and La Patisserie Chouquette. 

"We cannot really afford to have more quarantines. We can't afford to have members of our staff fall ill or get exposed, and so we're trying to accomplish mitigating and minimizing the risks," Poremba said. 

Poremba admits, he won't be the vaccine police. Instead, opting to trust people's integrity when folks walk in for dining or make a reservation online. 

Apotheosis Comics and Lounge on South Grand is also requiring vaccine proof in order to remove masks inside.

"Initially I think it's tricky to verify if they are or are not vaccinated, but I applaud the efforts of businesses that are trying to stay afloat during these difficult times," Stephanie Lombardo said. 

Lombardo was dining at a Bengelina Hospitality restaurant Wednesday and says she has no problem with the new rules. 

The latest establishment to require vaccination proof is Blue Strawberry. Starting Sept. 1, all artists, customers, staff will need to show some verification, whether it’s the original vaccination card, photocopy, or a photo on your phone, that proves one dose of the vaccine has been administered. 

"We at Blue Strawberry want to do what we can to protect ourselves and one other at this pivotal time. We want to continue to provide a space where people can gather to celebrate wonderful music, great food, refreshing beverages, and each other's company - as free as possible from worry about infection," the company said. 

Refund requests will be offered for already-purchased tickets as a result of the new requirement. 

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved


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