By Julie Glass
It’s been three months since Philly restaurants were allowed to open for sit-down customers, but today’s the day, thanks to the following restrictions imposed in this pandemic world:
Officially, only restaurants that already have a license for outdoor dining are allowed to serve outside, and only within the area the license covers, whether that’s on a sidewalk, patio, or roof. Plans are in the works to temporarily change that policy, with restaurants requesting an easier process for adding or expanding outside seating.
Some restaurants are setting up outside by this weekend no matter what. Just off Rittenhouse Square, Bar Bombon owner Nicole Marquis says she’s creating an al fresco dining area with tables and string lights on the alley street next to the bar, even if she has to personally lay down across the alley to block it off.
But even with owners going to those lengths, some survey respondents say they plan to “wait and see how outdoor and indoor spaces are configured” and prefer to give restaurants more time to “work out their new processes” and “see how it all plays out.”
“I will wait until the restaurants I want to dine in are either inspected by the health department and deemed safe or until ample time has passed to ensure proper procedures are in place and food inventory has been recently refreshed,” one reader writes.
“Basically, I don’t want to be the first wave of people dining out because of both safety and quality of experience,” someone else notes. For another reader, priorities have shifted: “I have found that I don’t need or want to eat out as often as before.”
Still others are raring to go, writing in that they plan to dine at restaurants, indoor or out, as soon as possible. “Open everything. Green means go and there are still restrictions. What comes after green? How long do we have to wait to get our normal lives back?” says one person.
“I would feel comfortable in a restaurant that doesn’t cater to knuckleheads, i.e., customers who want the ‘freedom’ to not wear a mask,” writes a respondent ready to dine out if people comply with the rules.
Almost 60 percent are comfortable with the 6-feet-apart guidelines, while about 30 percent want that doubled to 12 feet of space between parties. On the opposite end, some people feel coronavirus-related regulations are unnecessary: “The restaurants need to make money, we will be fine,” one person says.