Some patios were hopping Friday on the first day that restaurants could reopen for outdoor seating only.
The large patio at TJ Chumps in Miamisburg, reconfigured with either barriers or six feet of space between tables, was nearly at full capacity just before noon. The restaurant opened the patio a half-hour early to space out diners as much as possible.
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Customer Cindi Wallace King was among the dozens of customers to turn out, and she took time to speak to a reporter before turning her attention to a large plate of chicken wings and a glass of sparkling wine.
“I would have been here on my birthday on May 6 if there was any way to do it,” King said. “I’ve been coming here since the beginning, probably 17 or 18 years. It’s like a home away from home. These people are like family to me.”
King said she was planning to return to downtown Miamisburg to eat dinner on a restaurant patio, but hadn’t yet settled on which one.
Mike Lee, operating partner for TJ Chumps, said the pubs’ four locations are lucky that they have large patios that can be reconfigured to meet state standards for social distancing or barriers between tables. But the reduced seating capacity will have an impact on sales.
“It’s a challenge and a learning experience,” Lee said. “We can absorb the inefficiencies, but it will be a challenge. We have gotten a lot of good feedback.”
Things were quieter at lunchtime across town at Coco’s Bistro in Dayton, which also opened its patio Friday for lunch service. But owner Karen Wick-Gagnet said shortly after noon that she already had reservations for 53 guests on the patio for Friday night.
Christy Fox of Beavercreek, one of a party of three at the restaurant for lunch, said, “It’s so important for us to support these small businesses. So many jobs and livelihoods are at stake.”
“We survived the tornadoes, the shootings – we must not let this virus defeat us,” Fox said.
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