Vermont restaurants reopen for limited indoor dining

Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 4:49 PM EDT
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Monday begins another step in the direction of the way things used to be. Restaurants in Vermont can now offer indoor dining.

"I mean it has to be done at some point," said Jackie Oktay of the Tuckerbox.

It's a slow Monday lunch crowd at the Tuckerbox, but owners of the White River Junction restaurant are simply glad to be serving customers inside. The new indoor dining guidelines include six feet between tables and total capacity capped at 25%. It's not ideal, but it's a start.

"We are just going to do our best. We are not looking too far ahead. We are keeping our plan tight because it is always changing," Oktay said.

Outside on this sunny day, two friends catch up over a meal. But Deb Kerwin of Hartford looks forward to being able to dine back indoors.

"There is just something about going out and having a fresh meal that you haven't prepared and someone else has and you can just take the time and enjoy it," she said.

Her lunch companion, on the other hand, is not as eager to head back inside.

"I'm very much of an outside person," Kelly Beebee said. "As a matter of fact, I try to find places that I can dine outside even before COIVD."

Next door, Piecemeal Pies is operating takeout only for the time being. Friday is pie day. The communal tables are not conducive to a limited capacity.

"It doesn't make sense. It's 100% of the operation costs to get 25% of the business. So it doesn't make sense for us to do that. We are going to use as much outdoor seating as we can," said Justin Barrett of Piecemeal Pies.

The business wants to increase its outdoor seating options by blocking off parking spaces, similar to what's happening in nearby Lebanon and Hanover, New Hampshire. But they say, at this point, they have not had much luck with town officials. And guests will soon have more options nearby. Beginning next Monday, restaurants across the river in New Hampshire can offer indoor dining at 100% capacity.

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