CT's Relaxed Restaurant Capacity Rolls Out on Day 1 of NCAA Tournament

The state's relaxed restrictions come just in time to welcome tournament business, but many restaurants say it’s not a slam dunk for them.

Connecticut took another step towards fully reopening Friday.

Restaurants, retail stores, houses of worship among other establishments no longer have to limit the number of people allowed inside.          

It comes just in time for the first day of the men’s NCAA college basketball tournament, but restaurants say it’s not a slam dunk for them.

“It’s not going to impact my business specifically. We can’t get any more seating with the 6-foot rule still in place,” said Phil Frogameni, owner of Chicago Sam’s in Enfield

They’re still hoping for a successful weekend, especially with the University of Hartford men’s team playing Friday night.

“Today and tomorrow should be great with the kickoff of March Madness. We like to call it Christmas in March, so we’re hoping for a big weekend,” said Frogameni.

“Everyone’s excited for all the games going on. You know money doesn’t hurt too,” said Chicago Sam’s waitress Erin Mattimoe.

John Paindiris, the owner of Effie’s Place Family Restaurant in West Hartford says Friday’s relaxed regulation doesn’t help him much either.

He says he still has lots of tables in his home basement.

"Friday’s news about opening up 100%, is definitely promising and it’s making feel good about going out and dining, but the unfortunate part is for most of us we don’t have the space to open up 100% and have comfortable distancing,” said Paindiris.

But similar to Dockside Brewery in Milford, it’s the community support that’s kept them going, “Last year around this time we were looking to open and then the pandemic hit, but we were fortunate with the neighbors and customers and the support that we got,” said co-owner Bob Chicoine.

So while tournament weekends of the past would have had more of a crowded, tailgate atmosphere at restaurants and bars around the state, this year fans at least can go out to cheer on their favorite team as long as they place an order off the menu.

“It’s exciting to have sports back and go out and be able to watch it and have a good time,” said Anthony Calabro while watching games at Chicago’ Sam’s.

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