Most Diners Choose to Dine “Out” as Restaurant Reopen Dining Rooms

On Father’s Day many customers ventured out to eat for the first time since restaurants closed dining rooms in March. Here patrons wait for the Maine Fish Market in East Windsor to open its outdoor dining tent at noon. 

On Father’s Day last month, a steady line of patrons waited to be seated for a noontime outdoor lunch at the Maine Fish Market in East Windsor. “It was a good day,” said owner Nick Vamvilis, whose family started the business forty years ago. 

“We’ve seen a lot of things through the years but we’ve never seen anything like this,” said Nick, referring to the social distancing rules for restaurant workers and diners due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In early June the long established business assembled party tents in its parking lot to allow for outdoor dining while indoor eating remained prohibited. A few days after Father’s Day indoor dining was reinstated as part of the second phase of Connecticut’s reopening – with precautionary measures put into place.

“A few people are skeptical. Most rather sit outside. We’ve been fortunate with the weather,” said Nick.  The restaurant, like most in the state, continues to adapt. Most recently, pay-at-table devices were installed. 

“It’s a lot more work for staff and servers, but we are making it work,” continued Nick. Ninety per cent of his employees have been able to return since being let go because of the slowdown, when only take-out and curbside service was allowed. But they are still working at reduced hours.

By Laura Hayden

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