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Restaurants can operate at 75 percent capacity

Posted at 4:04 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 17:45:02-04

EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WKBW) — March 19 is the day a lot of restaurant owners have been waiting for. It's the day they get to operate at 75 percent indoor capacity.

That means more tables, more customers and more earnings.

But that doesn't apply to restaurants that don't have enough square footage to work with. For the Bar-Bill Tavern in East Aurora, operating at 75 percent isn't that simple.

"Sadly it doesn't change a thing for us," said owner Clark Crook.

The cozy and inviting atmosphere is what make the tavern what it is. But Crook said if the six-feet distance rule doesn't change, it's going to have a significant impact on the business.

"We're really governed by the six-feet rule. So if the six-feet rule ever changes, perhaps to three feet, the that will have an impact. But until then we'll be operating pretty much at 50 percent," he said.

Owner of Ristorante Lombardo Thomas Lombardo said the new rule doesn't do much for his business either.

"That doesn't really allow us - specifically the way we have our dining room laid out - to really increase our capacity," said Lombardo. "You really can't put more tables or chairs in the restaurants until you can loosen that restriction. Because six feet is a lot more distance than you would have typically seen between tables in a restaurant."

But restaurant owners are staying positive - keeping in mind that in restaurants in Connecticut and Massachusetts went to 100 percent restaurant capacity.

"Hopefully we can be at 100 percent by summer. I think - like most restaurateurs - it's critical in Western New York that we have a full summer," said Crook.