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COVID Reopening: Weekend Hustle And Bustle Returns To San Francisco Restaurant Scene As Indoor Dining Begins

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- On Saturday night for the first time since mid-March, diners began flocking to San Francisco's famed restaurant scene to eat a meal indoors.

The restaurants have been dark, forced to try to survive by serving take-out and only recently meals outdoors at makeshift patios. But this week, the city moved into the moderate Orange Tier of California's reopening guidelines and began allowing limited indoor dining on Wednesday.

The kitchens in many San Francisco restaurants looked reenergized Saturday night as diners got their first taste of normalcy. It was a welcomed scene at Tyler Florence's Wayfare Tavern on Sacramento Street.

"Every single thing they're doing is by the book," said Lucianna Castellucci, a diner from Novato. "We've had nothing but great experiences here. They have sanitizer by the door, they have a list of rules they ask for you to abide by and respect. "It is about time. People are going stir crazy in their homes."

Under the new health rules, restaurants in San Francisco can operate indoors at 25% capacity, or up to 100 people. Masks must be worn when not eating or drinking. Health surveys are required.

Wayfare Tavern General Manager Danny Barrious said they had 190 reservations indoors and outdoors. They would expect to do 240 on a busy night before the pandemic.

"The indoor dining thing is a lot bigger than we had anticipated," said Barrious. "Coming into this we weren't sure whether people were going to be tentative or whether they're ready for indoor dining. But clearly they're ready for indoor dining."

Marie Carr was celebrating her 40th birthday with her family.

"It feels normal, which is great to see the kitchen staff working and other patrons. It's an exciting moment," she said.

After a six-month hiatus, Fisherman's Wharf favorite Scoma's was buzzing with activity. It welcomed diners indoors with acrylic separators between booths. They were fully booked on Saturday.

"It's amazing, when you call for a reservation and they say 'indoor and outdoor, you're like great, I would take indoor,'" said diner Susan Bunnell, who was visiting from the Central Valley. "Because we haven't had it for so long."

Scoma's maximum capacity is now 63. Several guests also took advantage of outdoor dining.

"Credit to the Scoma family - the effort to keep people employed is really an important part of our model," said General Manager Michael Cope. "But no, 25% is not sustainable. We are anxiously awaiting the next step."

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