Right now, the state of Connecticut says restaurants could be allowed to resume indoor service on June 20. But some restaurant owners are pushing for inside dining as soon as this week.
David Agostino and his family, owners of the Bedford Street Diner in Stamford, have adapted to a new type of business over the last couple of months amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have quick pickup and all the services -- Grubhub, DoorDash, Mover -- but that doesn’t make up for what we make on a weekend,” he said as he filled a takeout order.
Agostino estimates they are losing a $1,000 a day without indoor dining and $3,000 on weekends.
Because his diner is in downtown Stamford, Agostino doesn’t have much space for outdoor dining, which was allowed to resume May 20 under the state’s gradual plan for reopening the economy.
He said even if the current state guidance changes, he’s determined to seat customers inside June 20.
“We decided as a family, and I’ve spoken to other restaurant owners in Stamford. We are opening June 20.”
Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, would like to see indoor dining resume even sooner.
“Obviously, I am going to push for [June 3] until it comes and goes. June 20 is too far off,” Dolch said.
He said only about a quarter of the 8,500 restaurant owners he represents were able to reopen outside, leaving 89,000 restaurant workers still unemployed.
“Not everybody has the outdoor opportunity and the financial risk of opening outside space,” he said. “We need to get inside to make it work financially.”
Dolch points out that June 20 is also Father’s Day weekend, and opening before that date would help restaurants prepare and then capitalize on a normally busy holiday.
“There is not a restaurant or hotel that is in this phase as well that would ever want to open their doors for the first time on a Saturday,” he said.
For Agostino, a return to indoor dining means a chance to make the money he needs to catch up on the $13,000-a-month rent he’s missed the past few months.
“I hate the term essential business,” he said. “My sisters and I all have kids. We all have houses. It’s pretty essential we get this back.”
On June 1, Gov. Ned Lamont told Connecticut Public Radio that June 3 was too soon to resume indoor service. Lamont says he wants to coordinate with Massachusetts and New York, which are still considering waiting until June 20.