BURLINGTON, Mass. — Ronnie Gueterman and Allison Walsh dined at a restaurant in Boston’s North End on Monday night, on the first day that Massachusetts restaurants were allowed to have inside dining.
“There was hand sanitizers at each table, they were cleaning the menus, everybody was wearing masks. It was good. They did a good job,” Walsh said.
And for Frank DePasquale, owner of Bricco and six other restaurants in the North End, it was great to be open again.
“We waited three months. This is the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
On the first night of loosened restrictions, in the second step of Phase 2 of the state’s reopening guidelines, a combination of indoor and outdoor dining culminated together into a lively vibe on Hanover Street.
“This is a Monday night and you see how many people have accepted this transformation in the North End,” said DePasquale.
He feels this is the first page in a new chapter since things took a pause in mid-March.
“They want to be out of their house. They want to be out and about,” he said of diners.
Gueterman said it was nice to be on a date night eating in a restaurant.
“I know people are not necessarily wanting to come out in the public but with the social practicing we thought it was good have a nice little date out,” he said.
Those strict practices were visible at every restaurant we visited, including Citrus and Salt over in the Back Bay, also thoroughly reminding guests to do their part.
“If we see people that aren’t following the standards and the regulations, we kindly remind them please put your mask on,” said Andrew White, assistant general manager of Citrus & Salt.
At the Tuscan Kitchen in Burlington, Ruth Irving’s mouth was watering for one of her favorites. ”We ordered salmon. Both of us. We knew what we wanted before we got here,” Irving said.
Irving and her granddaughter were the first dine-in customers at the restaurant since March 15.
“I feel wonderful about it,” Irving told Boston 25 News. “Back to a feeling of normalcy. It’s making me feel very good. I’m 93 and I need every bit of normal I can get.”
>>>PREVIOUS: Indoor dining to resume Monday in Mass.
The restaurant industry is approaching a $5 billion revenue loss in Massachusetts alone. Tuscan Kitchen General Manager Richard Bertin said having the indoor space is their new game-changer as they try to rebound.
"Having the option to seat people inside if the weather is not good is huge for us," Bertin said.
Restaurants in Boston could take longer to rebound than out in the suburbs because the Massachusetts Restaurant Association said many people are working from home in the suburbs.
"Not being there now, it's more difficult for Boston to sort of pull through with the highest number of restaurants seats in the entire state, so it is a real challenge," Massachusetts Restaurant Association President & CEO Bob Luz said.
The industry is trying to get people's new routines to turn into new habits.
“The fact that people aren’t commuting back and forth to home. You are not sitting in traffic on the Pike for an hour to get home at 7 and you are exhausted. So Monday to Wednesday is the new Saturday,” Luz said.
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