STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - The restrictions have been lifted and businesses are reopening on the other side of the pandemic. Many are returning to old settings they left more than a year ago.
But some never left. It's been a long time since cooking an omelet - or eating one at a restaurant - wasn't a potential health hazard for the cook and the customer. But at Dodge Park Coney Island in Sterling Heights, we found both.
"Where do I begin? This past year I can tell you, you can describe it best as a tsunami. It just wipes you all out," said Pashko Ujkaj, of Dodge Park Coney Island.
Like most restaurants, Dodge Park didn't have the option of remote work.
"This is one of the few industries that you cannot work from home. You cannot do the job from home. At the same time, if you try to do it in-person, you have the most restrictions that exist because of your encounter with individuals," said Ujkah. "I mean, we make your food."
SItting and enjoying some of that food were officers with the Sterling Heights Police Department. They didn't have a break from the workflow either.
But that doesn't mean it wasn't a challenge.
"Well, obviously the biggest one for me was trying to stay healthy. Being able to do our job effectively but yet having to juggle everything going on with the virus. We had to change kind of how we do things to adapt to it," said Officer Steve Kujat. "At times, that was frustrating."
"It’s a job I love," said Jacob Lopez, another officer. "They say it’s not a career you get into for the money."
Lopez and Kujat were out eating together, neither holding a mask. A year ago, that might have felt like an abnormal sight. But now, it's the life many are returning to.
And yet, there is a sense of high alert that remains. Procedures and health guidelines due to the coronavirus still dominate the protocols of businesses.
At the same time, Pashko says he's grateful to be in the position of still running a store that survived the pandemic.
"That’s the sad part because no one ever thought something like this could happen to this industry, let alone the whole world," he said. "I think this is a perfect saying how people say ‘you don’t know what you have until you don’t have it.’ Some of the things we are getting back to and are able to do - I think we're going to be more appreciative."
That's an outlook that many are taking.
"You try to find the silver lining in everything. Obviously, I saw a lot of people spend time with their immediate family. A lot more families working from home so they got more quality time with each other, which I think was a plus," said Kujat.
"It feels good to get back to the normal things and it’s nice to see people out and about again," said Lopez. "The world is kind of coming back together piece by piece."