Ariane Kitchen & Bar (AKB) unveiled socially distanced seating for drinks and dinner on its backyard patio, and set high-top tables along the side wall under its big mural. The Verona Inn showed off a re-vamped patio space on Instagram, and Avenue Bistro and Frank Anthony’s opened their outdoor spaces too. Grimaldi’s has a patio space and Blue Hippo has a backyard with old-fashioned picnic tabes.
AKB is operating outdoor dining on a modified schedule, opening from Thursday to Monday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. and other eateries are also adjusting their schedules. Because seating capacity in these outdoor spaces is a must, all restaurants are strongly recommending reservations. And all of them want Verona foodies to know that they continue to offer the curbside pickup and delivery that they’ve been running as a result of COVID-19.
The Verona Chamber of Commerce is helping to educate would-be diners to the new reality of eating out in town, rules that have been set by state authorities. In posts to social media, the Chamber reminded people that they must follow social distancing guidelines and while diners don’t need to wear masks while seated at an outdoor table, they must have a mask on if they need to enter a restaurant’s building. And, of course, no one should go out to eat if they are not feeling well. Outdoor tables must be a minimum of six feet apart and seating is limited to a maximum of eight people per table.
There may be outdoor dining at restaurants without a patio or yard as well. At its June 8 meeting, the Town Council voted to temporarily relax the town’s ban on sidewalk dining. Jack’s Cafe by the Post Office has already put some brightly painted bistro tables out and The Thai Elephant has turned its back parking lot into a tented Thai garden. Township officials have also migrated some of the Verona Pool’s blue tables to the driveway in front of Town Hall so that people who have picked up a restaurant meal can dine outdoors. But the town is not sanitizing these tables after every use and diners must clean up after themselves.
Outdoor dining won’t make up for the business lost in still-closed dining rooms and restaurant owners are urging everyone to be forgiving as they and the public adjust to the changes. “Cut everyone some slack,” AKB posted to Instagram. “Everything may be a bit slow because this is basically a new job for everyone. Be kind. BE PATIENT.”