Patios were allowed to open Friday for outdoor dining, and restaurant owners are making the most out of the first step toward provincial reopening.
Rules are a little more strict in Niagara, where tables of four people have to be from one household, which can be confusing, said town CAO Marnie Cluckie during her COVID update Monday evening.
“Our businesses and the community did a good job with compliance,” she said.
Town staff have tried to be helpful, answering questions about restrictions and patio structures, and have developed a food and beverage package, available on the town’s website, to help businesses understand the regulations, she said.
Maria Mavridis, operator of Corks Wine Bar & Eatery and Firehall Flame on Queen Street, has been closed completely since the last lockdown, choosing not to do takeout, which has never been a staple of the two Queen Street restaurants. When the province moved up the opening of patios from Monday to last Friday, instead of rescheduling staff, she stuck to her timeline, allowing a “deep, deep clean” over the weekend.
With so few tables able to be occupied, staying closed a couple of extra days “weren’t going to break the bank.”
Monday, of course, brought off and on rain storms to interrupt the day, and with only outdoor dining allowed, weather is critical.
Fortunately, Corks has a covered patio.
Although continued restrictions on indoor dining mean it’s not a lot of hours for staff to work, and not a lot of revenue for restaurant owners, “it’s a great feeling to be open,” she says.
“The music is pumping, the staff are joking, and the morale is back.”
That will have to do for now, with indoor dining hopefully allowed in three weeks, when the next step of reopening is anticipated, she says.