MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH)– Many restaurants in Connecticut are struggling because of the pandemic. With the colder weather coming and outdoor dining coming to an end, they worry what will happen next.
There’s still no walk up service at bars in the state but you can sit down at the Celtic Cavern in Middletown, which has put up plexiglass and turned around chairs to allow people to belly up at a safe distance.
“That’s what we’re looking to do is trying to make things feel as normal as possible,” said Bill Nemecek, one of the owners of Celtic Cavern.
After being closed for five months, they reopened August 13 hoping to keep customers satisfied and safe.
In the dining room there are some tables with x’s on them so no one can sit there and they can keep people six feet apart.
But they also do have some flexibility, such as if they have a big party they can put two tables together and when they do that they make sure they don’t sit anyone at the nearby booth.
They also expanded the outdoor seating which on a rainy day like Thursday doesn’t help much.
“It’s kind of scary if we start to see snow flying in the air,” said Nemecek.
“That’s the fear I have in my role right now is how do we help these restaurants. We need to increase capacity inside,” said Scott Dolch, Executive Director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. “Still keep people safe but also build that consumer confidence.”
Restaurant owners say consumer confidence is key to keeping them in business.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think it was safe,” said KC Ward, who along with his wife Jamie, own Roostser Co. In Newington and Flora in West Hartford.
“There’s been weeks where I’ve been losing thousands of dollars,” said Ward.
They’ve made a lot of changes to keep customers inside safe.
“Eating outside, inside it’s okay,” said Celtic Cavern customer Mike Silva of Middletown. “As long as you take protection.”
The Wards want the state to allow more customers to come in, out of the cold.
“Let’s remove the fifty percent capacity,” said Dolch. “Let’s talk about six foot spacing. Talk about barriers.”
A recent study found 30 percent of restaurants nationwide may not survive beyond 2020.
“We have 8,511 restaurants before this pandemic began,” said Dolch. “You take 30 percent of that. That’s 2,400 restaurants across our state which would unfortunately close their doors.”
Dolch says that could effect 160,000 restaurant employees as well as many others.