By Ryan Hill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – There’s a sense of cautious optimism amid the smell of jerk chicken when it comes to reopening at Café Connection in downtown Sacramento.

“I don’t know where that light. It’s taking a long time. But it’s going to happen soon,” Debbie Rahkumar, Owner of Café Connection, said.

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While some are cooking their own take on reopening, there are some who are getting a new sense of hope of returning back to normal.

After not being able to hold conventions or indoor meetings in nearly a year, Visit Sacramento, a local hotel representative including those from the Hyatt Regency Sacramento, California Hotel Lodging Association, and other organizations are hoping to prove the ballrooms can do it again.

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“We’re trying to show the state that this room is the definition of social distancing and there’s a safe way to do meetings and set it up,” Mike Testa, President & CEO of Visit Sacramento, said. “And not only bring some jobs back but drive some visitor spending into the market.”

Testa and others showed CBS13 a simulation of how they safely plan to bring back an in-door meeting or convention at hotels amid the pandemic.

“This is a room where we can control the airflow, where we can distance people as far away as we need to and still conduct business,” Testa said.

The head of Visit Sacramento said a lot of demand built up for hotels to have events safely. Something Sacramento has missing during COVID.

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“We’re not an intuitive tourism destination like Las Vegas but, visitors spend more than three billion dollars annually into our local economy. So, having that gone has had an impact on a lot of businesses in the region,” Testa said.

Testa told CBS13 that meetings and conventions account for $212 million dollars of revenue in the regional tourism economy.

The Hyatt has been itching to have these kinds of events happen again safely in their ballrooms.

“We have so much demand for people wanting to meet and needing to meet. There’s some really important meetings and events that need to happen,” Brenda Kirian, Director Of Sales & Marketing for The Hyatt Regency in Downtown Sacramento, said. “And if we can show how it’s done safely, I think we’ll get back to normal.”

This push to bring some sense of normal back is something places like Café Connection are all for.

“You will have more foot traffic. You’ll have more people coming from out of town and they might want to visit you,” Rahkumar said.

Visit Sacramento said that their organization, Cal Travel and California Hotel Lodging Association have been in touch with the state regularly and have presented their updated plan verbally.

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They’re currently working out to discuss further details of their updated reopening plan.