Growing indoor restaurant capacity may not be enough

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DUNMORE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) 25 to 50% indoor capacity. That’s the change that has been going into place since Monday. Potentially, it could be the shot in the arm for local establishments. For others? It may be too late.

More opportunity to invite diners back into local restaurants. It’s panning out as a double edged sword for restauranteers like Jimmy Reese at the Fireside Martini Grill in Dunmore.

“50% capacity indoors, it’s going to bring us up to maybe 35 people that we could actually accommodate inside,” said Reese. “We can probably break even with 35 customers right any less than that and it’s we might as well just close our doors.”

Having to balance capacity with staff and diners? More business is able to come in. But in some cases it will be for a last meal in some of these establishments.

“I have two friends very good friends of mine that i went to school with. They both have restaurants in Dunmore and baltimore for sale,” Reese added. “It’s sad to see that that kind of stuff happening because everybody has this goal to be to be an entrepreneur and just push through it as much as you could”

A 20 minute drive up I-81 and McDonnell’s in Carbondale has been serving the community since 1957.

“we’re happy to get back opened and seeing our customers again,” said owner Rob McDonnell. “We’re optimistic and happy to be back open. But, obviously, if this lasts long term — I don’t know how anybody survives it.”

They’re finding it hard to get enough staff to work their large dining rooms as hungry customers return. The last six months, they’ve been open in different capacities, but it hasn’t been pretty.

“If I knew that it was gonna last for three months it may have actually been beneficial to shut down. We were probably losing money every day.”

Time will tell if restaurants like these in Lackawanna County and beyond will survive.

“When you’re hitting the knees and then hitting the back. It’s hard. It’s hard to make a living,” said Reese.

“Yeah, we’re spread pretty thin,” added McDonnell. “You got to figure it out one day at a time, you know.”

Some restaurants have been able to take advantage of those summer months and things like outdoor patio seating. As people move inside? Utility costs and other challenges arise. They tell Eyewitness News if they want to make it through the Winter, they’re going to need more than 50% or a little more help.

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