It’s been a little over a week since restaurants in Pennsylvania are have been able to open indoors at 50 percent occupancy.
But owners tell us it still isn't enough as we head toward winter.
The Original Pocono Pub and Grill Owner Richard DeFino says, "The problem is you eliminate service over the bar and you cut it to 50 percent, now you make it too tough. Restaurants have been through enough."
The Original Pocono Pub and Grill on Route 611 in Bartonsville has 28 available seats at their bar and they currently can’t use any of them. The owner says being back at 50 percent capacity isn’t enough to make it through the winter without the bar service.
DeFino says, "We’re going to personal distance anyway. It’s eliminating real-estate that you can use within a restaurant. A lot of people, including myself, will go to a fine dinning restaurant, sometimes I want to sit at the bar."
But taking away alcohol from patrons at midnight hasn’t been a problem. We’re told the 11pm cutoff is better than the governor’s original plan at 10pm.
DeFino says, "You sold them the drink at 11 and then you tell them at that point we got to take them away at midnight, I think people don’t have a problem if you get an hour’s notice. You try to stretch a drink for longer than that, then you’re doing it for that reason."
While the extra higher occupancy percentage is appreciated, the owner is still worried about not being able to use the patio when it gets cold. That’s why he’s focusing on upgrading the inside. A vestibule is currently in the process of being built to help with space.
DeFino says, "You walk into something instead of walking right into the restaurant and the vestibule will give us all another stairway to get upstairs so we’re looking for other things we can do as well."
Further up Route 611 in Tannersville, the owner of Smuggler’s Cove is installing outdoor heaters on their patio.
Smuggler's Cove Owner Chris Sarajian says, "We got to get moving on that actually so we have it for the weekend. But when that starts to go away and it gets colder out, that’ll hurt if we’re still at 50 percent."
The restaurant is just starting the 50 percent occupancy today after just filling out the self-certification paperwork.
Sarajian says, "We took a couple days to go through everything and make sure that we were being compliant. You know, it’s confusing because the occupancy load could be interpreted many different ways."
Having around 10 thousand square feet inside, the owner feels fortunate. But it’s still going to be tough to make it with half of the restaurant being seated with a little over 100 people and no bar seats.
Sarajian says, "One area that we’re still a little stuck on is the bar, that’s our regular business and a lot of regulars come here for a long time to sit and have a drink and get something to eat. They wish they could be back at the bar where they were before and so do we."
Both owners tell us they hope this is the start to increasing the capacity until it’s at 100 percent.