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Philadelphia Restaurants Excited To Finally See Customers Again As Outdoor Dining Resumes Across City

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- You can now dine outside at restaurants in Philadelphia. One restaurant owner said today was like the first day of school. A lot of sleepless nights for restauranteurs all in preparation of today.

Those with patio areas on their property and restaurants with sidewalk cafe licenses were able to reopen Friday.

In some ways, it's a bittersweet day. Not every place was able to make it through the pandemic, but there was a collective cheer from the restaurant owners who survived on Main Street in Manayunk Friday morning.

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They're opening their doors and widening their curtains, like the ones you see inside the Manayunk Brewing Company.

Owner Mike Rose allowed CBS3 inside before they officially opened their doors to customers on the patio.

"It's been hell, the last few months. We've lost a lot of money in the last few months, I'll be honest. But we'll move forward, we'll be a better restaurant for it," Rose said.

The tables at the Manayunk Brewing Company are all six-feet apart, per the governor's rules as the Philadelphia area moves into the yellow phase of reopening.

Rose says they, like many other restaurants, have had to reinvent themselves over the past three months or so. And just to see customers walking through their doors for the first time since winter will be a welcomed sight.

Some of the other precautions at the brewery include all plastic utensils and all food will be served in plastic containers.

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Just down Main Street, Winnie Clowry, the owner of Winnie's, couldn't contain her excitement or her trepidation.

"I was more afraid to open up today then I was 17 years ago when I bought the restaurant," she said.

Clowry was forced to lay off 40 members of her staff during the pandemic. Her losses? In Winnie's words: substantial.

"And to lay them off was hard. To get them all back again, it's not going to be the same," Clowry said.

But today is a happy day for Clowry. She says she doesn't care where customers go, as long as they do, as her business, like many others, are now tasked with rebuilding.

"For three months, I've been dying for people to come into my home so I can feed them and love them and it's finally here," she said.

Fare was the place to be in Fairmount Friday evening. Even the pups seemed to enjoy the al fresco dining.

"Everybody's been waiting for this time coming and it's nice to finally get out and finally have some drinks and enjoy some outside patio time," Fairmount resident Anthony Calabrese said.

"Feels amazing. It's like a whole reunion," Rotten Ralph's Bar manager Dana Bankosh said.

Over in Old City, Rotten Ralph's management said it took a lot of preparation to reopen.

"We had to order all new food, all new produce and everything, prep drinks. Totally worth it though, we missed everybody," Bankosh said.

Though Philadelphia restaurants have reopened for outdoor dining, people are still aware of the risks.

"Hopefully we don't see a spike with everybody being outside. I guess we'll just work through it, we'll have to see," Bankosh said.

Restaurants without outdoor seating can apply for a permit.

There are four types of permits being offered, sidewalk cafe, streetery or turning curbside parking, temporary use of private lots for dining, and temporary street closure.

Restaurant owners may begin to apply for the permits late in the afternoon Friday, June 12 and the application review process will begin on Monday.

City health officials do not recommend gatherings of larger than 25 people.

CBS3's Dan Koob and Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.

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