This summer, downtown Easton, like many other cities around the country, utilized outdoor dining as a way to optimize safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as restaurants begin to look ahead to the looming winter months, they may have to pivot once again in order to support their business.
Kim Kmetz, manager of the Easton Main Street Initiative, explained that most restaurants in the town plan to continue with outdoor service as long as possible, as many of them have installed portable heaters to keep dining spaces warm. Some may even provide blankets to customers.
Juan Martinez, owner of Don Juan Mex Grill (now located at the base of College Hill), explained that his restaurant has recently implemented more pick-up and delivery options than they had previously. He said he obtained a self-certification through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, for which he implemented careful cleaning processes in order to have indoor dining open at 50 percent capacity for as long as possible.
“I feel a sense of responsibility for my employees and their families,” Martinez said. “We want to make sure that they could support their families and make sure that they’re working in a safe environment.”
Tucker Silk Mill, located on Simon Boulevard, has had to make many changes to their business since March. With the feasibility of outdoor dining likely to decrease in the colder months, they plan to implement more grab-and-go options while allowing only three people in the store at a time, according to co-owner Melanie Hansche. Beginning in November, Tucker Silk Mill will allow groups of 10-14 guests to book their dining room exclusively, which complies with the state-mandated 50 percent capacity policy, according to Hansche.
Hansche also praised Governor Tom Wolf, saying he “has done a great job keeping Pennsylvanians safe.”
3rd and Ferry Fish Market in downtown Easton has operated with 75 percent outdoor dining and 25 percent indoor dining throughout the last few months, with both doors open and a fan going to maintain air flow throughout the restaurant. They will continue operating at partial capacity throughout the winter, according to manager Danya Kinsman.
“We’re just doing our best to continue to serve everyone to the best of our ability with smiles on our faces,” Kinsman said. She emphasized that employees complete a temperature check everyday and follow stricter cleaning procedures than usual.
Paul Curtis, co-owner of 1001 Thai on Northampton Street, said that he appreciates all of the new customers the restaurant gained by offering takeout in the past few months, attributing this to his belief that “people appreciate that we’re taking the extra precautions.” The restaurant is open for fewer hours in order to maintain the additional cleaning protocols.
Curtis also said that he believes the restrictions are completely necessary and have “nothing to do with politics.”
Ocean 235, located near Centre Square, has implemented indoor dining at a 50 percent capacity after originally only offering takeout options at the beginning of the pandemic shutdown. Owner Mick Gjevukaj emphasized how helpful the community has been, stating, “support from our regulars has been very positive, overwhelmingly positive.”
“We are working on not compromising the quality of the food, the standard of service, everything will be maintained, while taking every necessary measure to make sure that people feel safe,” Gjevukaj said.
More information about Easton restaurants’ plans for the coming months can be found on the Easton Main Street website.