The patios and decks opened just as residents were champing at the bit to get outside.
When Lackawanna and surrounding counties entered the yellow phase, outdoor dining was permitted after two and a half months of waiting thanks to the threat of COVID-19 spreading.
Thomas Tell Jr., owner of Thirst T’s Bar & Grill at 120 Lincoln St., Olyphant, was ready for customers to enter after weeks of hard work.
Earlier this year, Tell watched as other countries began to suffer from the effects of the coronavirus and closed up his bar days before Gov. Tom Wolf shut down restaurants across the state. It stayed closed for two weeks before opening for takeout and curbside pickup only.
Thanks to his former career in politics, Tell worked to get the legislation ready for the “cocktails-to-go” bill that would help bring much-needed revenue to dozens of local businesses. After it was passed and after officials announced Lackawanna County would move into the yellow phase, Tell and his staff got to work to get the patio ready for customers and in line with the state’s guidelines, which came with its own set of challenges.
Normally, Thirst T’s patio can hold 130 people, but within these new guidelines and even with a temporary extension into the parking lot, there’s only room for 80. Still, Tell makes the best of the situation by adding live music and food and drink specials. Though they aren’t required, Thirst T’s will use paper menus, plastic cups and utensils to keep everyone safe. Employees are screened each day, and Tell, like many other business owners, also enforces customers wearing masks when they arrive, leave and whenever they get up from their table.
While some businesses “can get away with saying the mask is optional,” he said, “the state holds our licenses. We could get shut down if these guidelines aren’t being followed.”
Tell said he and his staff are taking it one day at a time and make sure to follow everything to the letter so “coronavirus doesn’t come anywhere near Thirst T’s.”
“I want (customers and staff) to know they’re safe here,” he said.
Check out some other places around the area where you can dine al fresco. Hours may vary transitioning from the yellow to green phase.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT