Putnam Helps Restaurants Prepare For Outdoor Dining

The Town of Putnam is closing off a portion of Main Street to open up outdoor dining for two restaurants.

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Barriers are in place along a stretch of Main Street in Downtown Putnam ahead of Wednesday's partial reopening. The town placed jersey barriers alongside a public parking lot to provide outdoor dining space for Courthouse Bar and Grille and The Stomping Ground.

"Without closing off the street, there would be not outside dining for these two restaurants," said Mayor Norman Seney.

Seney said that the town is working to take all possible actions to help businesses enter the first phase of reopening in Connecticut on May 20. The town set up an application for restaurants online. They are asking that restaurant owners who need to add outdoor dining or need assistance in finding space fill out this form so that town officials can review their reopening plan.

"We are noted for our restaurants and our antiques. If we can’t get our restaurants up and running, a lot of these businesses would fail," said Seney.

James Frost, co-owner of Courthouse Bar and Grille, said that sales are down about 50 percent. He said that the community has been very supportive, buying takeout and gift cards, but the sales do not compare to what they would be bringing in if the restaurant were open. He said that he has had to lay off some of his staff.

"It hurts a lot," said Frost.

Courthouse is one of the restaurants that will be using the sectioned off parking lot on Main Street for outdoor dining. The staff has been spending the last several weeks planning for proper social distancing protocols outside, creating outdoor menus and preparing to keep everyone safe while offering outdoor dining for the first time in their 22 years of business.

“To add those 10 to 12 tables, I think is going to be so uplifting and refreshing," said Sheila Frost, co-owner of the restaurant. “We know we need to do it bit by bit and be safe and cautious with everything. I think everyone is excited to get that step in the right direction. "

The Broken Crust restaurant is planning on placing three tables outside of their space. The restaurant opened just weeks before the pandemic hit. They have been adapting their business plans ever since, performing contactless deliveries and working with customers to make them feel comfortable ordering to-go.

"Whatever we had to do to survive is what we did," said Joseph Cozza, co-owner of the restaurant.

The restaurant has also been working to support the community. They have raised over $8,000 so far to help feed first responders who are working during the crisis. They also donated picnic tables to the town to be used in the park across the street from their restaurant.

"It might be an opportunity for people to eat out in the park and enjoy themselves," said Cozza.

Both businesses said they are eager for the next step in the process and will continue to adapt service to help their customers. They look forward to serving people inside again.

"I am sure the biggest question on everyone's mind is when can we get more seating capacity," said Frost.

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