Suburban Pa. restaurants get their outside seating ready for diners as yellow phase begins

HAVERTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Restaurants across Southeastern Pennsylvania are getting ready for something they haven't seen since March: customers dining on the premises.

"I've missed going out to dinner," said Esther Cohen-Eskimo of Havertown, Delaware County. "I think this is long overdue to be able to eat outside."

Under the expanded yellow phase of Pennsylvania's reopening with COVID-19 restrictions, restaurants across Pennsylvania reopen to outdoor dining Friday.

Philadelphia, though, will wait another week to allow restaurants with existing outdoor dining space to serve customers in those spaces.

Many of the restaurants will require reservations, to avoid the possibility of too many people showing up and crowding one location. The restaurants will also have to keep social distancing and safety in mind.

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"All of my employees, we'll check temperature wise as they come in to the building," said Justin Weathers/ Co-Owner of Stove and Top in Lansdale. "(Employees will be) wearing gloves when serving food and drinks and always wearing masks at all times."

For some restaurants that didn't have outdoor space, Havertown set up barricades to create that space.

"What we're doing is moving the sidewalk to the street so pedestrians can walk in the parking lane therefore allowing the restaurants to take up the whole sidewalk," said Haverford Township Police Chief John Viola.

The yellow phase also allows the opening of day care centers as long as they follow the state's health and safety guidelines.

Gatherings of up to 25 people are also allowed, though residents are still urged to use caution and not gather in large groups.

Also, the new phase allows in-person retail shopping, though delivery and curbside pickup is still preferred.

Not every business will reopen under the yellow phase. Barber shops, gyms, nail salons, casinos and movie theaters in Pennsylvania will remain closed.

"I'm for everything reopening right now," said Robert Kintzell of Havertown. "Every (business) across the board. You can't do for one without the other."

The restaurants that reopen, will only be able to serve smaller crowds for now. It amounts to a percentage of the business that restaurants like Havertown Grille got before the pandemic.

"I think I can put 10 tables out here, which would be 20 (people)," Havertown Grille owner Nick Haselisdis said while pointing to the sidewalk in front of his restaurant. "In my restaurant, we have 60 seats inside. So it's still limited."

Haselisdis scrambled to get outdoor furniture to accommodate outdoor diners when the restaurant reopened Friday morning. He even had to use a couple of tables from his own home. It's all in the name of reopening his business.

"This is Havertown. People are great," he said. "Our customers support us."
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