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'These Are Just Crumbs': Allegheny Co. Restaurants And Bars Reopen With Outdoor Dining, But Business Owners Say It Won't Be Enough

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Effective Friday, restaurants and bars in Allegheny County are under new restrictions as county leaders work to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Another Friday, and another round of changes for restaurants and bars. A new two-week order is now in effect.


"We're pretty excited to be able to open for some outdoor seating," said David Vivino, the co-owner Oakmont Tavern.

"That's nice to help get some people working and get some revenue in for the restaurant," Greg Rosato, Hoffstot's Cafe Monaco Sous-Chef, told KDKA.

A couple of weeks ago, they were all running at 50 percent capacity, then last week they could only do takeout or delivery, now they can only let people enjoy outdoor dining and up to three drinks.

"We're hoping this gets us through. I hope everybody wears their masks and we get these cases down so we can at least open to 50 percent," Vivino said.

The last few weeks for restaurants and bars have been challenging. Some created outdoor seating so they could cash in on this new order.

Before sunrise, employees of Kelly O's in the Strip were preparing for what they hoped would be a busy day ahead. Instead of getting tables ready inside, they worked in the parking lot -- extending the outdoor seating area.

"We're trying to do our part. We're not trying to be irresponsible and get people sick, but we're still trying to do business here," says Bob Tirk, Kelly O's kitchen manager.

Once the popular breakfast diner opened, the bacon was sizzling inside, while customers tried to stay cool outside.


Many don't mind eating outdoors.

"As a healthcare professional, I understand. I've seen what the virus has done to people and whatever precautions we can do to save lives is important," says Zach Perpetua from Morningside.

Restaurant owner Kelly O says it's frustrating following the guidelines and keeping up with the changes, but it's the cost of doing business.

"You can't run a restaurant like this, this is not feasible," she says. "I mean, we are, but how long will we be able to sustain this is the question."

Next door at Harp and Fiddle, owner David Regan is also expanding his outdoor seating. He's worried the restriction of a three drink maximum and no outdoor smoking will hurt business.

"It's been slow and we kinda need to get back to normal, and I understand the health aspect of it, and we'll do what we have to do, according to the rules," he says.

Meanwhile, Rosato told KDKA by the new outdoor seating that they're trying to make the best of the situation.

"You don't get frustrated," Rosato said. "You make the best decisions for that day and you hope people understand."

Vivino, the co-owner Oakmont Tavern, feels this is not a sustainable business model. He said his restaurant can't survive on just people sitting outside.

"This is just a band aid. These are just crumbs that we're getting just to keep us alive. We need to get back to normal," Vivino said while seated at his outdoor seating.

Others feel the pain too. Hoffstot's Cafe Monaco down the street has had to think outside the box to keep making money.

"We've been as creative as we can. It's been a lot of work, but we're trying to do anything we can to keep our people working and money coming to the restaurant so we stay afloat," Rosato said.

So, allowing people to dine outside at restaurants is welcomed by owners, but they are hoping we can get back to normal operations sooner as opposed to later.

Other restrictions include making all customers sit at a table and finishing their meals by 11 p.m. Takeout and delivery can still be offered after that.

This order is in effect for the next two weeks.

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:

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