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Slow but sure

Outdoor dining, take out helping restaurants through pandemic

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Mike and Michelle peruse the menu at Original Italian Pizza. Mike is from Williamsport and Michelle is from Renovo. They came to the city after hearing about the Pedestrian Mall.

LOCK HAVEN — Restaurants throughout Clinton County, like many in the country, had to get creative during the coronavirus pandemic.

From take-out, curbside pick up, outdoor dining and updated hours, they’re doing what they can to get through the “green phase” of Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan into a full-fledged reopening.

Many restaurants in downtown Lock Haven have received assistance from the city with the closure of Main Street on Friday nights and Saturdays for an outdoor Pedestrian Mall.

Lori Casilio, owner of Leo’s Italian & Specialty Foods, said the street closures have been a good thing for her business.

“We were so busy we had to take the phone off the hook. We had every table filled,” she said of the first street closure.

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Main Street Grill and Leo’s Italian and Specialty Foods set up tables out front of their buildings during the city’s outdoor Pedestrian Mall.

Casilio, who adjusted her usual hours to accomodate the Pedestrian Mall in downtown is glad she did.

“It’s giving people a chance to get exposed to our store,” she said. On the afternoon of June 26 every table was reserved at Leo’s, something Casilio hopes will continue throughout the summer.

Customer’s at Stella A’s Bar and Grill seem happy with the outdoor dining option, Louis Anastos, owner of the restaurant, said.

“I think the response has been very good. People are being kind and respectful and are in good spirits,” he said.

Anthony Cilluffo, owner of Original Italian Pizza, said the outdoor dining is a big help in recovering lost revenue from the past few months.

“It helps. Those tables are usually full,” he said. “It’s great and people love it.”

Main Street Grill has seen its customer numbers near its pre-pandemic average, owner Chris Darwin said.

“Everything has been great,” he said.

Darwin said calls for reservations have been frequent. He encouraged those who want to eat at the restaurant to call first to ensure a seat outside or inside.

The Texas Lunch is also picking up more customers.

“It started out slow but now as the weeks have gone by it’s picked up,” owner Phil Anastos said. “It’s going better than I thought it would.”

The outdoor seating during the Pedestrian Mall has also created an extra 30 seats on Fridays and Saturdays, he noted.

Just off Main Street at the Old Corner, owner Don Powers said he’s only allowing outdoor dining at this time.

“I got my city sidewalk cafe permit and the liquor control board license extension all approved so I’m legal to have tables on the sidewalk,” he said.

Powers plans to stick with sidewalk and take-out options for now. “I want to wait and see what happens with ventures into indoor dining by others,” he said.

Currently the Old Corner can accomodate about 30 people when the streets are closed and 14 on other days of the week. “Which is more space than I have in my building,” he noted.

In McElhattan, Restless Oaks is doing its best to offer accomodations for customers while following CDC and DOH guidelines.

“We have three rooms that we can open at any time. We keep two open all the time and with the third we can seat 104 at capacity,” owner Lori Maguire said. This number is in line with the 50 percent capacity guidelines from the department of health, she said.

“It’s slow but we’re getting through it,” she said about reopening.

Maguire noted that those who may not want to sit inside the restaurant can also take advantage of their pavilion outside.

“We have tables and chairs in our pavilion so people can come in and get food and eat it out there,” she said.

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