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Consumer confidence up after two weeks of outdoor dining amid pandemic


Conn. (WTNH) — It’s been about two weeks since outdoor dining and other businesses starting re-opening in Connecticut amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But what is the status of consumer confidence? Is it coming back, too?

In Bristol, the answer is yes. Mayor Ellen Zappo-Sassu says half a dozen restaurants have expanded outdoor dining taking advantage of new zoning regulations.

At Pure Foods on North Main Street, it’s been pure joy for customer Barbara Hines. She ordered the impossible burger, “I’m really looking forward to it. I hear everything is phenomenal.”

Only open for a few weeks, owner J.R. Rusgrove says its been a whirlwind.

“We are good friends with Robin Roberts from Good Morning America and her girlfriend – Amber. They came by the very first day we were open.”

Green lines mark safe distancing on the sidewalk and bistro tables in the street – a makeshift promenade allows alfresco dining.

The mayor says the city is focused on its economic revival: “Our Public Works Department and our Economic Development Team worked together to get the businesses reopened. As you see the outdoor dining piece is a reflection of that.”

She and the Lieutenant Governor toured the district Tuesday. The next metric: June 20th.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said, “Hopefully we will see declining hospitalizations and fatalities and new cases and people will be able to eat inside restaurants.”

Former Bristol Mayor Bill Stortz is trying to stay positive, saying, “It will be interesting to see what happens when they open the other restaurants again.”

Up the hill at the iconic Busters Drive-In, there was a line for opening day. The third-generation owners self-certified they are safe with the state’s COVID19 DECD badge.

JR Rusgrove, the owner of Pure Foods, says consumer confidence is gaining but business owners need to stick it out.

“Probably the hardest thing you have ever faced in small business is the last three months, but if you can, just stick with it.”

With any luck Pure Foods says they will serve their 5,000th customers this week.

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