Outdoor dining returns to Tri-Town restaurants
Spring has sprung!
As the winter weather warms, seasonal Tri-Town restaurants are starting to reopen and year-round restaurants are beginning to resume outdoor dining.
Outdoor dining was on hold over the winter, when restaurants were also subject to state capacity restrictions of 25% around the holidays and 40% through the beginning of March.
Those restrictions were loosened by Gov. Charlie Baker on March 1, and the only remaining capacity restriction is maintaining six feet of social distance between parties — a rule which also applies to outdoor dining.
Covid even posed some problems for seasonal restaurants in the Tri-Town over the winter.
Richard Pasquill, owner of Turk's Seafood Market & Sushi in Mattapoisett, said that his restaurant closed early last year due to covid.
Typically, Turk’s is closed in January and February, but Pasquill closed the restaurant in mid-December last year, for fear of employees testing positive for covid as case counts were rising.
Pasquill’s fears were well founded, as around five of his employees tested positive following the restaurant’s closure.
“So we got lucky because we would’ve had to close anyways,” Pasquill said, adding that it was better to close under his own volition than be forced to close after an outbreak.
Pasquill took the time off to make improvements to the interior of the restaurant, including bringing the bar up to covid-safe standards and creating more space for sushi chefs and waitstaff.
In addition, the restaurant’s canvas-enclosed patio has reopened with added heaters that Pasquill said can make outdoor dining possible even on colder days.
“Basically, between last year and this year, I built a whole new restaurant inside my restaurant,” Pasquill said.
Turk’s wasn’t the only establishment to take a break over the winter, either.
Brew Fish Bar and Eatery in Marion shut down briefly in February, citing the state restrictions on dining.
A manager said updates on outdoor dining at Brew Fish will likely be posted to the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Ansel’s Cafe in Marion recently reopened its doors — and its outdoors — following a winter hiatus.
The cafe also recently received approval from Marion for a liquor license, but owner Elizabeth Carter said the cafe won’t begin serving alcohol until later in the spring, when she hopes the liquor license is fully cleared.
“I’m hoping by June we’ll have the liquor license ready to go,” Carter said.
In the meantime, the cafe is allowing customers to bring their own drinks.
Kate’s Simple Eats in Marion will also reopen its doors on April 5, following a closure for the month of March.
Owner Kate Ross said she feels lucky to have made it through the tough winter.
“Big picture, we’ve fared well because we are still in business,” she said. “I’m so thankful for our wonderful community and customers, the assistance from the government and my amazing staff who have been so supportive.”
Ross added that she’s working on new menu items for when the eatery reopens on April 5, and hopes to get some good use out of the full bar built last spring.
If guidelines allow it, Ross is looking to resume hosting pop-up evening concerts on Kate’s back deck, which will also reopen with the eatery.
“The good news is, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I think we’re going to have a great summer,” Ross said. “People are ready to have some fun!”
Moving a block north, Mary Celeste Whisky and Wine Library in Marion had a soft opening of its patio outdoor dining on March 21.
“Actually no one’s sat inside since we opened the outdoor dining,” Mary Celeste Manager Solena Morris said.
For the time being, outdoor dining won’t be offered daily. But Morris said the lounge will update customers on Facebook, and block out the eight outdoor tables on OpenTable — a reservation software — when outdoor dining is unavailable.
Back in Mattapoisett, The Inn on Shipyard Park has begun seating in its enclosed porch area.
Manager Chrissie Soars said that fully outdoor seating supplies are on their way to the restaurant, so it can resume the outdoor dining it had throughout the summer and fall.
She said the tables and chairs for outdoor dining should be coming within the next month or so.
“But the porch is open, for sure,” Soars said.
Oxford Creamery in Mattapoisett opens on March 25, with hours Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Patio seating is also set up at the Ropewalk Mall, which houses the Walrus and Captain.
Rochester’s only restaurant, Matt’s Blackboard, has also begun outdoor dining.
There are currently seven outdoor dining tables outside the restaurant at Plumb Corner, with more on the way, according to a manager.