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.

Alexandria Hilker, left, and Gina Tanana show off one of Thirst T’s signature drinks, the T’s Frozen Fruity, on the patio at Thirst T’s Bar and Grill in Olyphant, one of the dozens of places to eat outdoors in the region. Christopher Dolan / staff photographer

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.

Lackawanna County

Abiocco, Clarks Summit
Alfredo’s Cafe, Scranton 
Alter House, Clarks Summit
Andy Gavin’s, Scranton 
AV, Scranton
Backyard Ale House, Scranton
The Bar and Co., Olyphant
Bar Pazzo, Scranton 
Benny’s, Peckville 
Camelot Restaurant and Inn, Clarks Summit 
Carabello, Dunmore
The Club at the Highlands, Archbald
Coopers Seafood House, Scranton
Crotti’s on Ash, Scranton
Cusumano, Old Forge 
Dino and Francesco’s Pizza, Clarks Summit
Dooley’s, Old Forge
Fireside Martini Grill, Dunmore 
Frank’s Place, Simpson 
Happy Valley Sports Bar, Dickson City
Henry’s on Clay, Dunmore 
Joseph’s Restaurant, Peckville 
KOL Steakhouse, Carbondale
La Cucina, Dunmore
Legend’s Saloon, Dickson City 
Maiolatesi Wine Cellars, Olyphant 
Marzoni’s Brick Oven and Brewery, Moosic 
Morgan’Z Pub and Eatery, Scranton
Nonno’s Pizza and Family Restaurant, Moosic 
The New Cafe at Greystone Gardens, Clarks Summit
Nosh, Dickson City
The NYX, Clarks Summit
Oliveri’s Crystal Lake Hotel, Carbondale
Peculiar Slurp, Scranton 
Pine Hills Country Club, Taylor
Russell’s Restaurant, Scranton
State Street Grill, Clarks Summit
Talerico’s Tropical Winery, Taylor
Thirst T’s Bar and Grill, Olyphant
Waldo’s Tavern, Scranton
Windsor Inn, Jermyn
Y-Knot Pub and Eatery, Elmhurst Twp.

Luzerne County

Adelina’s Restaurant and Pizzeria, Mountain Top 
American Grill, Exeter
Arena Bar and Grill, Wilkes-Barre
Arturo’s Restaurant and Bar, Dupont
Beaumont Inn, Dallas
Benny Brewing Co., Wilkes-Barre
Breaker Brewing Co., Wilkes-Barre 
Budd’s Pizza Cafe and Sports Hub, Kingston 
Butcher Bob’s BBQ, Mountain Top
Canteen 900, Kingston
Charlie B’s Pub and Eatery, Plains Twp. 
Checkerboard Inn, Trucksville 
CK’s Authentic Mexican Food, Dallas
Cork Bar and Restaurant, Wilkes-Barre
Crabby’s Seafood Grill and Pipes Bar, Dallas
Damien’s on the Lake, Harveys Lake
Dugan’s Pub, Luzerne 
Four Blooms Restaurant, Drums
Franklin’s, Wilkes-Barre
Grotto Pizza, Harveys Lake 
La Tolteca, Wilkes-Barre
Leggio’s, Plains Twp. 
Keeley’s Alehouse and Grille, Kingston 
Kelsey’s Restaurant, Ashley
Napoli’s Pizza, Pittston 
Kings Restaurant, Mountain Top 
The Red Mill, Pittston
River Grille, Plains Twp.
Rodano’s, Wilkes-Barre
Sabatini’s Bottleshop and Bar, Exeter 
Screwy Moose Saloon, Larksville
Tomato Bar, Pittston
Top of the 80’s, Hazle Twp.
III Guys Restaurant and Sports Bar, Edwardsville 
Uncle Buck’s BBQ, Plymouth
Streamside Bandstand at Woodlands Inn, Plains Twp. 


Monroe County

Burke’s Tavern, Mount Pocono
Sarah Street Bar and Grill, Stroudsburg

Pike County

The Inn at Lackawaxen, Lackawaxen
Silver Birches, Hawley

Susquehanna County

Speakeasy Saloon and Resort, Union Dale

Wyoming County

Ardee’s Fooddrinkery, Falls Twp.
DeLeo’s Bar and Grill, Dalton 
Lake Sheridan Bar and Grill, Nicholson
Stonehedge Golf Club, Tunkhannock