The words were music to the ears foodies who flocked to dozens of area restaurants for outdoor dining Wednesday as New York further eased its coronavirus containment measures.
Waterfront places were an immediate draw. Main Street restaurants desperate for business — but maybe not accustomed to serving outside — were also quick to set up outdoor tents and tables on streets, sidewalks and parking lots to take advantage.
“It was not just about the food and drink, more of a feeling of things getting back to normal, albeit slowly,” said James Gilroy of Fulton’s Gate on East Main Street. He had set up bistro tables on the sidewalk.
“The support has been great,” he said.
The restaurants had been barred for offering any dining services since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phase two of the New York Forward plan includes al fresco dining, along with professional services, such as hair salons and barbershops (by appointment only); retail with limited capacity; administrative support and real estate selling and leasing.
The Oar Steak & Seafood Grill on Patchogue River had a wait much of Wednesday as the weather held and people who had been holed up in their houses for months took to the riverfront.
“Seeing the excitement of people coming to enjoy a nice night out in months was refreshing,” said one Oar server, Brianna Harmon. “Our owners and managers are always accommodating and that made for a smooth sail getting back to work.”
According to the state’s rules, restaurants are required to only seat customers outside, with tables at least six feet apart and employees wearing masks. Customers also need to wear masks when not seated at their tables.
But at least the diners get to take them off.
Harmon said Wednesday night, after her shift, that wearing a mask for eight hours was definitely “tough.”
“I was tired and drained mentally and physically,’ she said.
It was a humid day with little respite from the hot latex gloves especially.
“And I had to change gloves every time I brought food or a drink over,” she said. “But it was worth it to see people finally relax on a nice day out.”
Scroll down for al fresco scenes on social media.