By: Mark Hayward, New Hampshire Union Leader
MANCHESTER — Tape measures in hand, restaurant workers are arranging outdoor furniture and pitching tents — some for the first time — in anticipation of the long-awaited resumption of restaurant dining on Monday.
Under orders from Gov. Chris Sununu, restaurant dining will be limited to outdoors. Restaurants must comply with guidelines for social distancing and equipment, including face coverings and gloves.
Although they don’t expect to turn profits, the ones planning to open hope to satiate the long-suppressed desires of their faithful diners.
“My customers, they want to socialize. I have a very social group,” said Jean Barton, owner of the Red Barn Diner, a small, single-story building surrounded by an asphalt driveway.
Red Barn has never offered outdoor dining. But Barton has borrowed a 20-foot-by-40-foot tent from a friend and plans to pitch it in the back, between her building and some abandoned railroad tracks.
She has yet to figure out how many tables she will have. With parties limited to six and tables a minimum of six feet apart, the number will be far from the 55 she is licensed to seat inside.
On Wednesday, Mayor Joyce Craig announced that restaurants could offer outdoor dining in parking lots and on adjacent sidewalks, as long as adjoining property owners agreed.
As of Thursday morning, six restaurants had asked for city review of their outdoor dining plans: TGI Fridays and CJ’s on South Willow Street; the Hanover Street Chophouse and Hop Knot in downtown Manchester; and the Breakfast Club and Airport Diner in south Manchester.
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