‘It’s a ghost town’: One of the busiest nights for restaurants hampered by COVID-19

Business News

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The night before Thanksgiving is normally a big night for restaurants like Dave’s Bar and Grill, but with capacity restrictions and a nightly curfew in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, business was less than booming Wednesday.

Dave’s, like other restaurants across the state, wasn’t as busy as they normally would be the night before the holiday.

Gioia Desimone went to Dave’s with her husband for a drink. She said she sympathizes with the restaurant’s employees who have been affected, not only by the pandemic, but the state’s restrictions.

“It’s very sad to see people not gathering and seeing their friends and family,” Desimone said. “I understand the reason for it, but I’m sad that businesses have to struggle like this and people are scared to come out.”

Dave’s closed at 10 p.m. Wednesday night, which is in compliance with a weekday curfew recently implemented by Gov. Gina Raimondo. This was one of the restaurant’s last opportunities to make a profit before additional restrictions go into effect on Monday as part of Raimondo’s two-week “pause.”

Liza Doughty, a server at Dave’s, said this year is drastically different from years past.

“Normally it’s shoulder to shoulder. You can’t get in, there’s a line at the door and right now it’s a ghost town,” Doughty said.

The busiest spot at Dave’s Wednesday was at the bar, which had patrons separated by dividers. Starting Monday, restaurants must close their bar areas down and lower their max indoor capacity to 33%.

After 18 years of working at Dave’s, Doughty is concerned about what more restrictions will do to her income.

“To provide for my family, to put a roof over their head, to feed my children,” she said. “It can’t be done if I lose two weeks of work.”

At a time when people are supposed to be thankful, many are just trying to get through what has been the year of the coronavirus.

“I think it’s a horrible year and I just can’t wait to be done with it, to be honest,” Desimone said.

Earlier Wednesday, Raimondo said the state will be providing additional support to businesses impacted by the two-week pause. She said businesses that are forced to close or are severely limited are eligible for grant money up to $50,000.

Raimondo said businesses that qualify can begin applying on Friday.

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