Norwich restaurant owners worry how Phase 2.1 will impact business


NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — The kitchen at Jack’s Brick Oven Pizzeria in Norwich is now open until 10:30 at night. 

“Friday night 8, 9 o’clock it’s busy,” said owner Jack Djombali.

He said that has helped during this pandemic, which sliced most of their profits.

“Hard, difficult,” described Djombali.

On Friday, the state’s Phase 3 reopening plan rolls back to Phase 2.1, meaning 75% of indoor seating capacity drops to 50%.

There’s also a new mandate requiring restaurants and entertainment venues to close at 9:30 p.m.

“You don’t rush people out,” said Djombali, who feels people need to enjoy themselves. “Especially now.”

It was on Oct. 8 that Phase 3 began and increase indoor capacity to 75%, but at Jack’s, they weren’t really able to take advantage of that because of the limited space. So, that part of the rollback isn’t what really bothers them.

But it does affect another Norwich restaurant.

“We will have no choice but to see a decline of some sort on Saturday and Sunday,” said Olde Tymes Restaurant owner, Rodney Green. “That’s when we’re at maximum capacity.”

Olde Tymes Restaurant will have to cut seating back to 50%. The wooden barriers, which separate the booths, will allow the restaurant to keep the booths open but all the tables will have to go.

“Everything’s redefined,” said Green. “You make your adjustments and you try to survive.”

“Let us be open,” said Djombali. “At least our regular time so we can pay our bills and pay our employees and try to survive until springtime.”

He said he’s already lost his outdoor dining business to the cold weather and can’t afford to lose more.

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