Throughout the pandemic, restaurant owners have faced challenging times. Now, though there is some relief as the state's restaurant curfew will extend from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Among those applauding the change is the Hartford Restaurant Group, which includes nine Wood-n-Tap restaurants and the Que Whiskey Kitchen. With the restaurant curfew being extended to 11 p.m. co-owner Phil Barnett had something to say to Gov. Ned Lamont.
“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for starting to listen to exactly what we need to continue to do business in the state of Connecticut.”
Barnett is not alone. The J. Restaurant in Hartford is one of many establishments that has used creativity to remain in business. It has installed heated outdoor gazebos and even turned a boxcar into a pseudo-Parisian dining experience. Still the J. Restaurant has been challenged by the 10 p.m. curfew.
“If an 8 o’clock reservation is not sitting down at 8 o’clock, we were under the gun to get them fed,” explained owner Jordan Dikegoros.
Dikegoros said the extra hour gives them a little bit of wiggle room to get more done.
“It’s going to take a lot of pressure off of the staff in the kitchen,” said Dikegoros.
According to the Connecticut Restaurant Association, the governor's decision to extend the curfew is a step in the right direction, one that comes during one of the most challenging times of the year.
“January and February are always a very difficult time and now when you take away 50% of your restaurant because you have a limited capacity, all of it is very challenging,” said CRA Executive Director Scott Dolch.
Those challenges preceded the winter months. The Connecticut Restaurant Association said as of November it knew of 600 restaurants that have closed.
Just one-hour curfew extension could mean a big difference. Dolch explained that many restaurant business models are based on turning over tables three times a night. Closing at 10 p.m. limited some to two turns.
“About 33% of their revenue in a lot of these restaurants were being lost,” said Dolch.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association said it would like to see the curfew lifted completely. Barnett agrees.
“We believe that keeping our guests and staff safe will not be affected if we allow the time to even move up to midnight,” he said.
Aside from the curfew being lifted, restaurant owners would also like to see clarification soon as to when they can start booking reservations for receptions and larger gatherings.