Small signs sometimes signal big changes.
Such is the case with the 8›-by-11-inch “Open to the Public” sign outside the Legislative Dining Room on the Garden Level of the Capitol.
When the 76-seat restaurant opened a year ago, it was exclusively for the 105 lawmakers and invited guests. Legislative staff could order take-out. Six weeks into the 2010 session the rule was relaxed, and the public was admitted from 7 to 11:30 a.m.
That prohibition slipped, too. “The last couple weeks they said, ‘Don’t sweat it. Don’t discourage anybody,’ ” said Ronda DiGiorgio, who operates the cafe.
When lawmakers convened this year, all limits were lifted and hours extended to 3 p.m. “We’re up 40 percent over last year,” DiGiorgio said.
“We felt like we needed a vendor that was profitable,” said Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls. “This helps.