Outdoor Dining Reopens, Restaurant Owners Prepare

Outdoor dining
Photo credit Outdoor dining resturns to WNY/Getty Images

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) It's been eighty days since you could eat at a restaurant in Western New York.  And while you still can't take a seat inside a restaurant, you can now get a lot closer with outdoor dining being allowed beginning today.

Starting today, restaurants in Western New York can begin outdoor dining service, and owners say it's a good step but more has to be done.

"I think the first reaction of everybody is yeah, we're all in. but there's more to it. We need permits from the city," says Nick Pitillo of Osteria 166. "But I'm excited there is progress." 

Pitillo says he's not sure how helpful it will be in this stage. "Honestly, this phase I'm not sure it will. When we get to phase three when we can actually have people come in, get drinks, sit down and eat, I think it will be more valuable then. Certainly, we have some action with people getting lunch and this will be a nice way for them to sit outside and eat their lunch, and we'll have tables out there, but this won't help me personally," says Pitillo.

PItillo says restaurants struggle to make a profit at 100 percent capacity, and this will be a slow climb back. "It's a little scary because not 100 percent of the people will come back right away, but this gives us a fighting chance especially when we go to phase three," says Pitillo, He adds outdoor dining success will be weather dependent too..Pitillo says as excited as he is, there's more work to be done.

Governor Cuomo's order requires tables to be separated by six feet, with staff wearing face masks and customers doing the same when not seated.

The news comes a week after Common Councilmember Joel Feroleto and Mayor Byron Brown unveiled a plan to allow businesses to apply for expanded outdoor seating. "This is very exciting news and it's very important for restaurants in the area," says Feroleto. "The city of Buffalo formed a working group to help restaurants and quickly came up with an application live on the city of Buffalo website, so if a restaurant wants to expand the space, they can fill out the application and there will be an expedited review so they can serve more tables outdoors."