Optimism. You can hear it in the voice of business managers who spoke with NBC Connecticut on Saturday. They say they can see the light at the end of what has been a very long and dark tunnel. That’s because the next phase of Connecticut’s reopening plan is now in effect.
At the Thomas Hooker Brewery, beer taps were flowing and the outdoor tables were full.
“We’ve been having some pretty good days but today was absolutely phenomenal because people had a new spirit,” said brewery President Curt Cameron.
Perhaps so, because of new freedom. May 1 brought several changes. Particularly for outdoor eating and drinking.
There is no longer an eight-person table limit outside and for the first time in over a year, people could order alcohol from an outside bar, without having to order food.
“It’s flexibility for the customer and that’s really what it’s all about,” said Cameron.
Restaurants, theater and recreational venues can only also remain open until midnight. Lessard Lanes Bowling Alley of Plainville said it does much of its business in the early to late evening hours and expects this to lead to revenue growth.
“When the governor let us stay open until 11 p.m., our numbers went up a little bit higher,” said Jason Scagliarini, bowling alley manager. “It seemed like a lot more people wanted to come out.”
J. Timothy’s Taverne said it's benefitting by being able to sell to-go beer and alcohol without requiring a food purchase. As for the extended hours, they said they are taking it slow.
J. Timothy’s won’t immediately stay open until midnight because they do not have enough staff right now to do so. Yet, they are optimistic, looking toward the future.
“We’re eager to get things rolling as much as possible to what’s considered normal again,” said beverage director Reno Ouellet.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association said these changes play a vital role. They explain the extra hour of service will allow people to go to dinner later and give restaurants an opportunity to turn over more tables.
While it's a step forward, an even larger one is on the horizon. On May 19, virtually all business restrictions are scheduled to be lifted.