Indoor dining returns in Philly; PPA reducing parking fees at some garages

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Tuesday, September 8, 2020
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Tuesday marked the first time restaurants in Philadelphia could serve guests inside since city leaders shut down restaurants in March.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As indoor dining resumed in Philadelphia Tuesday morning, turnout was lighter than expected at the Oregon Diner in South Philadelphia.

Approximately 10 groups of people chose to dine indoors within the first three hours of opening.

"I think it's going to take a while for people to see that indoor dining is open again," said server Maria Kordomenos.

Tuesday marked the first time restaurants in Philadelphia could serve guests inside since city leaders shut down restaurants in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Maria Ellis and her husband missed eating at their favorite diner and were among the first to eat inside Tuesday morning.

Ellis says, "As soon as I saw it on TV this morning, I said, 'We're going out for breakfast."

Indoor dining comes with some city-imposed restrictions that limit restaurants from operating at no more than 25% capacity.

Kordomenos said the staff is taking extra precautions, like increased cleaning and removing condiments and salt and pepper from tables. But some customers just aren't taking any chances and chose to eat outside instead.

"I was waiting (for indoor dining) because I miss going to Red Lobster and stuff like that but I'll wait a while before going in. I feel more comfortable waiting a while, see how it goes with everybody else," said Len Watson of North Philadelphia.

At Parc in Rittenhouse Square, staff members took guests' temperatures before allowing them to enter the restaurant. Inside, servers wore face shields and masks and tables were spread out according to regulations.

Annemieke Eichelberger of West Chester said she feels safe eating inside.

"They took our temperature coming in, everybody has gloves, masks. I almost feel guilty not wearing my mask. It just feels good," said Eichelberger.

Patrons are not required to wear a face-covering while sitting at a table but must do so when walking through the restaurant.

READ MORE: Indoor dining at Pa. restaurants can expand to 50% capacity starting Sept. 21

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced Tuesday that restaurants in the state can begin serving at 50% capacity beginning September 21. That does not apply to establishments in Philadelphia.

Parc general manager Carol Serena said her staff is prepared to keep guests safe and believes city leaders need to listen to restaurant owners before more restaurants go out of business.

"Twenty-five percent doesn't work for small restaurants, they need 50%. They need to get back on their feet. There's economics attached to that," said Serena.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority is reducing parking fees to encourage people to frequent restaurants. Through November 30, 2020, patrons at participating restaurants will be provided a discounted $7 flat-rate parking rate after 5 p.m. at six PPA operated garages in Center City.

The offer includes the following garages:

- Parkade on 8th (801 Filbert Street)

- Autopark at the Fashion District (44 North 9th Street)

- The Family Courthouse Garage (1503 Arch Street)

- Autopark at Jefferson (10th & Ludlow Streets)

- Autopark at Independence Mall (5th & Market Streets)

- Autopark at Old City (2nd & Sansom Streets)