Some Mass. restaurants begin outdoor dining as state enters Phase 2

SE Mass

SOMERSET, Mass. (WPRI) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says he made the decision to move the state into Phase 2 based on a decline in hospitalizations and positive tests.

Baker made the announcement Saturday, giving businesses little time to get plans in place should they want to reopen as soon as possible.

Bonnie Souza, owner of The Pink Bean Coffee, says while her shop has been open for takeout since April 11, it’s given her time to think about how the design for outdoor and indoor dining will look.

“I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out how to reopen,” Souza said. “But in the same token, I think that anybody that owns a restaurant is probably doing the same and prior to their reopening spent time in their restaurant to gear up.”

Under new state guidance for outdoor dining, tables at restaurants have to be six feet apart, with no more than six patrons to a table.

Fortunately, Pink Bean’s Somerset location already had outdoor seating options, according to Souza. She says initially operating as takeout only was more difficult, but employees started with figuring out a way to do window service.

“We had to do some indoor construction for that, adding some more refrigeration, learning a new service model,” Souza explained.

The restaurant’s text-to-order service also proved to be good for business.

“Customers can order at home on their phone, and when they show up, we have numbered parking spaces,” Souza said. “They check into their order to let us know they’re there, and we can run their food right out to their parking space.”

Customers can also order from their phone and let staff know they’re at a table outside.

Souza says even with the restrictions, it’s allowed them to find ways to make the business better.

“You have to just kind of sit and look at it and decide you’re either going to go down, or you’re going to figure out something to keep going, and that’s what we did, and we’ve actually been busier than ever,” Souza said.

A date to resume indoor dining has not been announced, but Baker says that can begin in Phase 2. Souza says even when it’s allowed again, she might hold off to make sure her employees are comfortable and safe.

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