Despite pandemic, Valentine’s Day weekend proves busy for restaurants


EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants.

Despite this year’s holiday of love being like no other amidst the pandemic, Rhode Island restaurants said people are dining out.

“I think some people took advantage of yesterday with the potential forecast we originally had for today. We do have some reservations for this evening but a lot of our guests are walk in anyhow,” Chelo’s East Providence Manager Peter Dowhan said.

Chelo’s in East Providence had a full house Saturday night with the current 50 percent capacity limit.

Manager Peter Dowhan told 12 News, the reopening of bar seating on Friday came at a great time.

“No bar seating it took a toll on our business. The restrictions being somewhat lifted, at least we have partial use of our bar so that’s helped out the past few days,” he said.

But there are still some restrictions for bar seating — groups up to four from two households or less can sit together and parties also have to be six feet apart or three feet with a plexiglass divider.

“The spacing right now, maybe if it could get back to where it was prior to the closing of the pause. Incremental is better than opening it all together and then having to go back to square one,” Dowhan said.

Dowhan said the laidback restaurant had dozens of reservations this weekend, but it still didn’t quite compare to last year.

“Normal time last year is completely different from this year. Take out that’s compensated for the lack of business inside, I think it’s really been our savior,” he said.

Dowhan said Valentine’s Day is the second busiest day for restaurants, with Mother’s Day taking the top spot.

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