Restaurants allowed to open at 75% capacity, but owners say it doesn’t change much

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Colonie, NY (NEWS10) – Starting Friday, restaurants across the state are allowed to open at seventy-five percent capacity. However, with six feet social distancing requirements still in place, it doesn’t change much. They can’t increase their capacity and they’re still limited to distancing requirements.

Richard Dynes is the managing partner at Texas Roadhouse on Wolf Road in Colonie. The restaurant is about six-thousand square feet and still their hands are tied. “For us it’s not going to change a thing, not right now,” said Dynes. “We already have our tables spaced out to maintain that six foot space, so we really can’t add anymore capacity, until those limits are lifted,” he added.

Dynes said they’ve been as creative as they can be using every inch of their floor space and still they can only operate at fifty percent capacity, even a little under just to give guests some peace of mind.

He adds that because their seating is mostly made up of built-in booths rather than tables there’s only so much they can do.

Chef and Owner of Scotti’s Italian Restaurant in Schenectady, Guy Sementilli, shared that sentiment, saying no one created their floor plan with the possibility of a pandemic in mind. He went from twenty-four tables down to ten. “Seventy-five is pretty much just an optic. It sounds great, but I know from my other friends in the restaurant business it’s going to do absolutely nothing for us in terms of seating,” said Sementilli.

He said at this point it’s either fifty percent or one hundred percent without distance requirements. There’s really no in between. He’s hoping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will eventually declare that three feet of space will suffice. “As long as this conversation of three feet is going to be taken seriously and they give us the green light to move forward. Until then, seventy-five percent means pretty much nothing at least for me,” said Sementilli.

Many of the owners we spoke with said they’re waiting for the weather to break so they can start setting up tables outside. At Brown’s Brewing Company in Troy, they have about a dozen tables out on their patio.

Owner Kelly Brown told News10 they were able to add an additional twenty seats at their other location in North Hoosick called the Walloomsac Taproom by rearranging their take-out section and adding some tables to their dining area.

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