New York state loosened its Covid-19 regulations for indoor dining last week, allowing restaurants to increase their capacity from 50 to 75 percent. Restaurateurs in Sea Cliff and Glen Head said they were excited to serve more customers, which could help them rebound from the financial woes caused by the coroanvirus pandemic.
Bill Long, owner of the Metropolitan Bistro in Sea Cliff, said the winter was the worst season for the restaurant since the pandemic began last March. From last spring to early last fall, he said, people ate in the large outdoor dining area behind the Metropolitan, which helped keep the business afloat. He said the eatery also did more takeout business, which waned in the winter. People didn’t come out, he said, even though he added an extension in front of the restaurant to increase indoor seating.
With spring’s arrival, Long said, combining outdoor dining with increased indoor dining could boost his business, and he hoped to see many familiar faces return.
“It’s great because, as the weather gets better, they’ll be coming out,” he said. “It seems to be timing perfectly with the weather.”
Having lived through the pandemic for more than a year now, Long also said the Metropolitan’s ownership and staff will be better equipped to handle what comes their way in the coming months. He said he looks forward to expanding his menu and improving on all that the restaurant did last year.
Across Sea Cliff Avenue is gastropub Still Partners, which has seen an uptick in service as the weather has warmed, said co-owner Dan Roth.
“We’re starting to see faces again, people I haven’t seen in a year, which has been nice to see,” he said. “It’s great to see all of these people coming out of the woodwork again.”
Roth said he is excited to increase indoor capacity, although parties will still be separated by partitions. Many of the restaurant’s patrons say they have been vaccinated, he said, adding that the increase in indoor diners could help the public realize that eating out is becoming safer.
Still Partners also benefited when the village closed down Sea Cliff Avenue on Friday and Saturday evenings last year, Roth said, which allowed the eatery to set up several tables in the middle of the street. The village board is discussing whether they plan to try that again, and Roth said he hopes village officials decide in its favor. More than anything, he said, he is happy to see the village slowly recovering.
“I just hope that the numbers keep going down so that people will really start to feel safe again,” Roth said. “I think it’s going to be a little while, but they’re going in the right direction, so I’m just hoping that things really bounce back.”
Owner Toni Zuccaro said the pandemic has caused Tavern 227, also on Sea Cliff Avenue, to struggle. The restaurant has 40 seats and is only open three days a week, she said, so even the increase to 75 percent indoor capacity may not make much of a difference. She said she hopes for a return to normal as soon as possible and is also banking on outdoor dining returning, she said, as both would be crucial in helping the business stay afloat.
Kent Monkan owns four restaurants across the North Shore, including the Heirloom Tavern in Glen Head. He said that takeout helped save the business over the winter, and that even with an increase in indoor dining, many people remain wary of eating inside. The restaurant has an outdoor patio area, which opened two weeks ago and was filled on the first day.
Monkan said that vaccinations would be crucial moving forward, both for restaurants and the world at large. He wants to see life return to normal as soon as possible, he said, so the struggles of the pandemic can be relegated to the past.