Restaurants Continue to Adapt Amid Uptick in COVID-19 Cases

Hot Rod Café is now offering delivery, finding new ways to adapt. Pie Hops, a restaurant in Norwich, officially opened today.

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As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb across Connecticut, restaurants continue to adapt.

Hot Rod Café in New London made the decision to roll themselves back to Phase 1 of reopening, amid an uptick in cases in New London. The restaurant is offering take-out and, new this week, a delivery option.

"A lot of people are nervous to go out. Some people are nervous to come to New London. Some people are nervous they are not going to find parking," explained Rod Cornish, owner of Hot Rod Café. "This way they can call or go online and order and we will bring the food right to their house."

Cornish said that he never thought he would offer delivery when he opened the restaurant 15 years ago.

“Even six months ago I didn’t think we would be delivering and not having people sit at my bar and not having people in there on Sunday for football, so we are just adapting and trying to keep everybody fed and keep everyone employed,” said Cornish.

Delivery will be offered to all of New London and most of Waterford. Cornish said he is looking to expand to Groton in the next few days. More information can be found here.

As Cornish and his team continue to look for new ways to adapt in New London, a restaurant team in Norwich is beginning a new journey all together.

Pie Hops officially opened Thursday in Downtown Norwich. The gastro-pub type restaurant sells specialty pizzas, hamburgers, sandwiches and craft beers.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced that beginning Friday the state will be rolling back to what is being called Phase 2.1 when many restrictions will be put back into place and gathering size limits will lower again.

"I think we are really going to take the ball and run with hit," said Mark Vecchitto, executive chef at the restaurant.

Vecchitto said that he is excited for the future of the restaurant and what they can bring to the downtown Norwich area, however he is not blind to the challenges of opening a restaurant during the pandemic.

“That is on everyone’s mind. That is our challenge," said Vecchitto. "But I think, it is slow, it will give us a chance to build our brand.”

COVID-19 protocols are in place at Pie Hops, accounting for social distancing. Phase 2.1 goes into effect tomorrow, requiring dining rooms to stop serving by 9:30 p.m. and limiting capacity at tables to eight people.

“It is going to be tough. We will abide by all of the rules. We can do it. We can definitely do this," said Vecchitto. "We will be doing take-out. We will be doing curbside. If we have to deliver, we will deliver."

Pie Hops, located at 80 Broadway, is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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