North Country restaurants open up for outdoor dining

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) Gov. Andrew Cuomo surprised many North Country restaurants on Wednesday with word outdoor dining could reopen in the area on Thursday. Our Kelly O'Brien checked out what Day One looked like.

Restaurants in the North Country took full advantage of the governor's OK for outdoor seating, but restaurants like the Butcher Block tell me there will be some changes.

"I'll be here quite often," said Joey Ormsby of Plattsburgh.

The umbrellas are up, the tables set-- patio seating is officially open at the Butcher Block.

When you walk into the Butcher Block restaurant, you will notice some changes, like a log-in book that greets when you walk in. It's to help the restaurant keep track of who visits their establishment in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19. It's pretty simple to use. Take your phone out on camera mode and take a look at the QR code. It brings you to a three-question form to keep track of everything.

"It's a privacy thing for some people... some people may not want to use it, but we want them to," said Kevin Kilkeary of the Butcher Block. "We're not enforcing it but it will be good if there is an issue down the road."

Tables remain six feet apart, groups will be under 10 and masks are a must for staffers and guests not yet seated. But the restaurant is ready even if they didn't have much notice of the reopening.

"We had a lot of plans in place," Kilkeary said.

"It would always be nice to have a little notice before these things occur," said Mayor Colin Read, D-Plattsburgh.

A similar sight on sidewalks in the city of Plattsburgh-- restaurants breaking out their parklet barriers and sanitizing their seating.

"We scrambled and had our DPW crews reorganize their schedule today and we worked on that all last night," Read said.

The mayor proposed more parklets for the restaurants to allow them more space for patrons to keep safe while dining.

"There isn't going to be as much parking downtown this summer if we can't seat as many people because of the new social distancing rules, so I think we can sacrifice a few parking spots to create more space so they can start spreading out as the laws require," Read said.

Back at the Butcher Block, those at the tables said it's good to be back.

"I work in the restaurant industry, so for me, this is a pretty big deal," Ormsby said. "I'm pretty excited about it. I can't wait to have a drink at a bar."