Restaurant-goers in Connecticut wary of indoor dining

Two weeks ago, Connecticut allowed indoor dining to resume but the comeback hasn't quite started yet.

"Right now we are at 50% capacity, I wish we had that problem to police it because we still haven’t gotten there yet," said David Agostino, who owns the Bedford Street Diner in Stamford with his siblings.

The diner just managed to survive during the lockdown. But now that it has reopened, with hand sanitizer alongside the sugar at every table and the staff wearing masks and gloves, many customers are still staying away.

"People are still scared to eat inside, especially the elderly we have a lot of older customers."

Outdoor dining has drawn crowds across the tristate area but as cases of COVID-19 continue to surge elsewhere in the country, many local restaurants have seen hesitation from customers when it comes to dining inside.

"The outdoor dining is far and away more popular than the indoor dining right now," said Adam Zakka, a managing partner of Z Hospitality, which runs eight restaurants in Connecticut and Westchester, including Terra on Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich, where the patio was packed Wednesday, but only a couple of tables were occupied inside.

While many restaurants are seeing hesitation from customers when it comes to indoor dining, other businesses that operate indoors like gyms, say their business is coming back.

"Our members were ready to come back probably two months ago," said Mike Carozza, who owns Carozza Fitness in Stamford. 

Carozza was able to reopen July 17 at a reduced capacity, as part of Connecticut's Phase 2 reopening. Carozza said his business is back to pre-pandemic levels, and even group workout classes are filling up. He has stepped up cleaning, spaced workout stations further apart, and made other tweaks to his business model.

"Now people have to schedule when they come in the gym, they have to be in the gym for X amount of time to allow for another wave of members to come in," he said.

Clients like Thomas Arnez, who spent the last three months mostly working out in his basement, says he couldn't wait to get back to the gym.

"This gym is really clean, and we were careful to maintain distance and I think if you do that sensibly you can go back to gyms, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t seem to want to adhere to the rules," Arenz said.


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