By Libby Rosequist
Beginning today, restaurants in the yellow phase will be able to offer outdoor dine-in service. This is only applicable to the restaurants and other food service businesses that already have outdoor seating available.
North East has four restaurants that fall under this category — New Harvest, The Vine, Skunk & Goat and NOOSA.
New Harvest will have around seven tables available for customers and will be open from 4 p.m. to sunset. The menu will not be limited but certain food options will be first-come, first-served until it is gone.
“We are ecstatic to be given the opportunity to see our customers’ faces again and we are hoping Mother Nature is on our side during this time,” Heather Spaeder, owner of New Harvest, said. “We know how unhappy this pandemic has made us and it definitely has hurt our business, but we are working closely with the health department to make sure we can get our restaurant up and running as much as we can.”
The Vine will maintain its regular hours of operation from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. with the full menu and Monday through Thursday specials still available.
“This has been a trying time for all businesses, and I know how lucky we have been still being able to take orders and now being allowed to use our outdoor seating,” Mike Snow, owner of The Vine, said. “Not all restaurants have this capability and we are truly fortunate to have the space to accommodate our customers during all of this unknown.
“The silver lining to this whole situation is we have seen so many new customers, and not just our regulars, and we are grateful for all of this support that has helped us keep our doors open,” Snow said. “When we are finally able to open our doors fully, we hope to still see all the old and new faces.”
The Skunk & Goat will have 16 seats available for outdoor dining with a limited menu until they can officially open their doors.
“We have re-structured our outside floor plan to enforce the 6 feet social distancing and all other state regulated guidelines,” Anne Lewis from Red Letter Hospitality said. “Throughout all Red Letter Restaurants, we are taking all safety precautions necessary and are putting the health of our team members and guests first.
“We are so excited to have our doors open again. We have missed our guests so much and are looking forward to seeing everyone again. The community has been absolutely wonderful throughout this whole pandemic and we are ready to provide an amazing dining experience for everyone again,” Lewis added.
There have been precautions put in place by the Erie County Department of Health to ensure the safety of the customers and employees.
Customers can expect the indoor areas to be closed except for through-traffic for employees or access to the bathroom. All customers are required to wear masks while entering, exiting and any other travel throughout the restaurant. The masks can be removed once seated.
“Individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2, per CDC guidance) are not required to wear masks and are not required to provide documentation of their medical condition,” Annabelle Russell, Environmental Protection Specialist from the Erie County Department of Health, said.
Tables are required to be 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing between the different parties.
“Non-medical masks should be provided for employees to wear at all times,” Russell said. “But if it impedes their vision, they have a medical condition, or it is creating an unsafe condition to operate equipment or execute a task, employees does not need to wear a mask.”
The Department of Health strongly encourages individuals to abide by the following social distancing requirements to:
• Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other individuals;
• Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available;
• Cover coughs or sneezes with a sleeve or elbow, not hands. Do not shake hands;
• Regularly clean high-contact surface areas;
• When sick, stay at home;
• Follow all guidance on gathering sizes applicable in yellow and green counties.