Restaurants eager to have outdoor seating return

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PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — We may not have had the ideal weather for it Thursday but good news for local restaurants. They’ll soon be able to have customers dine in outside.

June 5th is a very important date to many restaurants across northeastern and central Pennsylvania. In Luzerne County, the idea of dinning out has restaurateurs eager to bring business back in.

“It makes the difference between making money or not making money, paying the bills or not paying the bills,” Jeff Woytowich, owner of The Cafe – An American Bistro, said.

It’s been a brutal two months in lockdown for the restaurant business.

“The first week was a little tough. We didn’t know what to expect. We’ve obviously never been through this before,” Woytowich said.

Local businesses and especially sit-in dining establishments having to keep customers out. Many getting by on take-out and delivery alone. Word from Governor Tom Wolf that June 5th means outside seating is available for yellow phase counties? A Godsend.

“Patio dining is something that a lot of people like to do. As soon as they announced yellow, our phones started ringing. People wanted reservations which is a great feeling that people are anxious to come back,” Woytowich said.

Not everyone is on board though. Many looking forward to putting out tables along downtown Wilkes-Barre and others have concerns.

“We don’t really have the chance to put out the tables. Mainly concerns for the safety, cleanliness and pedestrian safety with customers,” Tina Thai, manager of Thai Thai said.

Thai Thai, like many others during this pandemic, struggling but getting enough support to wait out the green phase.

“We are just waiting until they allow us to open the restaurant inside. We are waiting to be updated day by day,” Thai said.

Those rolling with the punches and eager to get at least some of their places cooking again? They’ve got the next week to prepare.

“Definitely something I never thought I’d see before. But like I said, whatever works, works. That’s what we’re doing,” Woytowich said.

Many small businesses solely relying on that take-out and delivery platform tell Eyewitness News they’re grateful to the support they’ve received. This next step, a major one for those on the brink of going under.

The governor’s approval for outside dining on June 5th includes all the counties in the yellow phase of his opening plan.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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