Outdoor restaurant dining now OK, but can owners swing it? | To eat


Mac on Hertel

James P. McCoy / Buffalo News

By Sandra Tan, Aaron Besecker

Jay Shepard rushed in on Wednesday after learning that the state would now allow alfresco dining at restaurants in western New York.

“We have to bring our food in,” said the owner of Dockside Bar and Grill in North Tonawanda, which offers two levels of outdoor seating overlooking the Erie Canal. “We have to set our tables up. We need to reinstate our staff.

The governor approved alfresco dining as part of phase two of the reopening of the coronavirus stop order. But that doesn’t mean that all restaurants will be able to benefit from it.

The Tavola Trattoria on Hertel Avenue is open for take out but will not offer outdoor dining. Owner Victor Cali said his patio would only have room for about three tables under the new guidelines.

The guidelines require that plastic dividers between tables do not meet the minimum 6 foot separation.

“It’s just too much. You know, we fight like this. To go buy all this? It’s just crazy, ”Cali said.

However, some restaurateurs say they are ready.

Wednesday’s announcement came as a shock to Tommy Cowan, co-owner of Forty Thieves on Elmwood Avenue.

“It was like a bomb dropped,” he said.

The restaurant will reopen for outdoor dining at 11 a.m. Thursday. Because it was opened for take out, it has food and a fully stocked bar, as well as staff on hand, Cowan said.


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