Restaurants reopening without zone restrictions: ‘This time feels different’

Food and Drink

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday all COVID-19 yellow and orange zone restrictions are being lifted in upstate New York, including here in Monroe County.

This means going back to the restrictions that were in place before microclusters came into the picture.

Staff at restaurants like Radio Social said this reopening gives them more hope that they may not have to go through another shutdown. Radio Social has been closed for 8 out of the past 11 months, and staff members are ready to get back to normal.

“This is an establishment built on large groups and we’re gonna ease our way back into that,” said executive chef Steve Eakins.

He said it’s been challenging having to remain closed so long, and it feels good to welcome back staff.

“I’m most excited about just being back with the team, eventually opening to the public and seeing smiling faces here, that’s the best part of what we do and we want to be as thoughtful and responsible about it and create that amazing fun environment we’ve had here all along.”

With zone restrictions being lifted, all restaurants are back to 50% capacity and a maximum of 10 people per table. Drew Nye owns Roam Cafe on Park Avenue. He said he’s happy about the increase from four people per table.

“I think bigger groups will be more encouraged to go out to dinner now rather than stay home. Obviously with 50% it’s still a challenge for smaller restaurants like us,” Nye said.

People will still need to buy food with every drink purchase and restaurants and bars will still have to close by 10 p.m.

MORE | Indoor dining set to resume for orange zone restaurants as New York state alters COVID-19 rules

“10 p.m. is fine for restaurants, typically we would be open till 11 so we lose that last hour but it’s nothing too game changing for us. The big challenges is for bars, neighborhood bars and entertainment district bars, that’s gonna be tough having the 10 to 2 still closed.”

Radio Social is one of the restaurants hoping for the 10 p.m. curfew to be lifted soon. They will be doing takeout this week and will reopen for dining and bowling next Wednesday. The other games will open slowly as the state allows.

Radio Social is also hiring for a few new positions and the chef encourages “qualified and good people” to come join the team.

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