As Long Island and the rest of New York continue to slowly reopen the economy, restaurants and bars have been long awaiting the chance to serve customers again in person. Restaurants were allowed …
As Long Island and the rest of New York continue to slowly reopen the economy, restaurants and bars have been long awaiting the chance to serve customers again in person. Restaurants were allowed outdoor dining in Phase 2, and in the current Phase 3, are allowed 50 percent capacity for indoor dining.
“We’re very excited to be back,” said Dave Bustamante, owner of Gallo Restau- rant on Main Street in Patchogue.
Gallo closed down shortly after the state orders in March that only allowed takeout, taking time to see how things played out. Bustamante opened back up right before Phase 2 started with takeout, and then set up outdoor dining, and now has indoor as well. He said the community has been excited and supportive since the place reopened. “It’s also comforting when you can go somewhere and see some familiar faces,” Bustamante said.
The restaurant is taking all CDC precautions with social distancing and cleaning. All customers are required to wear a face covering when not at their table, and there are various sanitizing stations around the restaurant. Bustamante also made custom masks for his team so they could sport the Gallo logo when working. Gallo has 16 seats outside and 49 inside at the capacity requirements.
He said the dine-in experience may be different, but will always have the comforting feeling that Gallo is known for when customers return.
“They’re going to get that family feel again,” he said.
Making sure the restaurant was compliant with guidelines and ensuring that staff and customers were responsible is an important piece for Bustamante. He lost his father and uncle to the virus, which has made him take it that much more seriously.
“We’re just trying to do our part,” he added.
At BrickHouse Brewery, owner Tom Keegan and his staff are happy to be back serving “the best beer and finest food in Suffolk County.” BrickHouse was doing delivery prior to Phase 2, and then opened up their hop garden in the back of their Main Street space. And when they did open, Keegan said people were already calling for reservations. You can now make those reservations online.
The BrickHouse staff has also worked to make the space as safe as possible before and during opening. The inside is seated for 50 percent capacity, and the seats at the bar were reduced from 30 to 12. Tables and chairs are cleaned and menus are thrown away after every use. Customers also have to wear a mask when not seated at their table.
“We are very, very concerned about [the] staff as well as our customers,” Kee- gan said of the new measures.
He added that the BrickHouse staff has been working hard to return and get back to serving customers.
“We’re really blessed with a good group of people that stepped up,” he continued.
And the advice from Fulton’s Gate Irish Pub owner James Gilroy: make a reservation. This way, the staff knows you’re coming, how many people you’re with, and any adjustments can be made. Gilroy said they’ve been spacing out people both in terms of distance and in time slots, so there isn’t pressure to be in and out. They’ve also opened up some tables outside for dine-in customers.
“The outside dining has helped tremen- dously,” Gilroy said.
The owner added that the family restaurant has a close relationship with customers, and it’s been hard not to hug or shake hands when seeing them again. Though business has not been what it normally would be, it’s better than it was two months ago. And the new outdoor dining event throughout the village has given them a small boost as well.
“It’s not a step back, it’s a step forward,” Gilroy said.