Local restaurant managers and their patrons say after months of isolation, it’s good to be back out in a social atmosphere — even if it’s restricted to the outdoors.
With the reopening of restaurants June 11 for al fresco dining only as part of the phased-in easing of measures instituted at the start of the coronavirus, customers are starting to return to the tables.
That celebratory mood was palpable within Patriot Place with establishments such as Tavolino, Six String and The Scorpion Bar, taking the new regulations in stride.
The reservations at Tavolino reached more than 350 last Friday and Saturday night combined, and manager Tom Perruna said he and his staff were “all finally feeling a little bit of normalcy” at being able to socialize, serve food and drinks and provide hospitality.
“We know it’s going to be okay,” Perruna said. “We’re going to get through this together and we’re going to get back to normal.”
One of Perruna’s regular guests, Stephen and Jen Marciano of Mansfield, were accompanied by their children, Nick and Olivia. The Marcianos had not been out to dinner as a family since March 13, and the return to Tavolino, even while eating outside, made Jen Marciano feel “free.”
“You feel so secluded when you’re in your house and to see other people go through what you’re going through is comforting,” she said.
The cleanliness of Tavolino was noticed and appreciated by the Marcianos, and nearby at Six String Grill and Stage, Peter and Barbara Burke of Mansfield also noted the precautions being followed by manager Greg Springer and his staff.
“They’re very clean,” Barbara Burke said. “Everyone is very attentive to sanitizing and cleanliness, face masks and all the protocol.”
Nearby at The Scorpion Bar, Mike Smith of Foxboro called the outdoor dining experience “liberating.”
“It’s just nice to get out and do normal things,” said Smith, who was accompanied by his wife Kristy and daughter Monica.
While at first glance Bar Louie looked empty, all the activity was taking place on the rooftop dining area, where Caitlyn Gavin of Canton, Nick Caira of Newton, and Caira’s friend Billy Rooney of Framingham had dinner together.
One aspect of the new dining regulations was that while waitstaff were required to wear masks, people sitting together at a table did not, and the contrast of walking around a restaurant or the property of Patriot Place while wearing a mask was still a bit unusual for Gavin.
“It doesn’t feel completely normal, but it feels more normal than sitting in your house for months at a time,” Gavin said.
The social distancing rule wasn’t easy for Jason Nichols and Mike Lisitza, who are the vice president of operations and regional manager, respectively, at The Scorpion Bar.
“It’s a challenge because we’re not used to being socially distant in this hospitality atmosphere,” Nichols said. “It’s something new to learn.”
However, Lisitza said the guests’ adaptation to the regulations have been helpful, and agreed that it was wonderful to be back to work.
“People have been very happy and thanking us for opening again,” Nichols said.