Indoor dining capacity increases in parts of Pennsylvania; 'last call' moved to 11.p.m

Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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Restaurants in much of Pennsylvania can boost indoor dining capacity from 25% to 50% starting Monday.

ARDMORE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Restaurants in much of Pennsylvania can boost indoor dining capacity from 25% to 50% starting Monday. This does not include Philadelphia, where indoor dining capacity will not increase until at least October.

Mounir Draissi, general manager at Sabrina's cafe in Wynnewood, said most of their customers oppose indoor dining, so they haven't allowed it.

"Everyday we worry about having to close," said Draissi. "You don't see as many customers like we've seen before. Its not the same. Everyone is afraid to come out."

But with the cold weather approaching, Draissi said they are testing out indoor dining this weekend.

RELATED: Philly restaurants will not move to 50% indoor capacity on Sept. 21; outdoor gathering limit increases

Jan Dorfman, owner of Delancey Street Bagels for 30 years, said he didn't think expanding capacity will change the minds of customers who are too nervous to eat indoors.

"I think people are going to be comfortable when they're comfortable," said Dorfman.

Dorfman was hit hard by the pandemic. He told Action News he planned on retiring this year, but then the pandemic hit.

"I was supposed to be on the beach somewhere and I was going to turn this over to my manager and give her a business and let her have a great life," said Dorfman. "I've been paying my bills off of what I put away for retirement over the last five months and it goes fast."

As Dorfman looked out at a sea of empty tables and seats, he said he's hopeful the cool weather and capacity expansion will make people feel more comfortable inside.

"I'm here to keep it open, to keep it running and hopefully things come back," said Dorfman.

Brendan Mullen, a chef at Iron Hill Brewery in Ardmore, is happy about the capacity expansion.

"The seasons are changing and it's really great to get to 50%. You know we do go on a wait on the weekend at 25% capacity, so this will be huge for us," he says.

Christopher Dellaportas, owner of Minella's Diner in Wayne said, "We were on a bare-bones skeleton crew doing pretty much no business and now hopefully little by little we're going to get back to where we should be."

Also beginning on Monday, 'last call' is moving to 11.p.m, meaning some restaurants are losing their last few hours of business. Under the new requirements, customers will have until midnight to finish their drinks.

Governor Tom Wolf acknowledged that the pandemic has taken a significant toll on the food services industry and said the state is trying to balance public health and economic recovery but frustration from business owners remains.

The manager of Saloon 151 in West Chester said due to the social distancing requirement they can't add many more seats inside, and now they will be losing the late-night hours as well.

"It feels like we're making decisions based on public health but not in recognition of local businesses and we're concerned with both," stated James Cappelli, manager of Saloon 151. "I think a lot of the goal was to divert young people away from bars and restaurants, but you're sending them away from a controlled environment to house parties and frat parties that aren't controlled."