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You may now be seated: Ellsworth restaurants waiting to reopen dining rooms

Restaurants in 12 of Maine's Counties opened Monday for dine-in service. In Ellsworth, some served customers inside, others are waiting to reopen dining areas.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Editor’s note: You've probably heard the term ‘flattening the curve’ as a way to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. The above video explains what that means. 

For nearly two months, restaurants in Maine turned to curbside pick up, machines, and take-out experts as customers weren't allowed to have a traditional sit-down meal due to the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic. 

For 12 counties in the state, Monday was the first step of getting back to normal as restaurants could once again open their doors for dine-in service.

Jason Sprague is the Manager at Governor's Restaurant and Bakery in Ellsworth.

“Oh, it’s been awesome, it’s been like weird nervous energy but everything’s going well," Sprague said.

Every restaurant that opened did so under strict CDC guidelines and regulations. Guidelines include all servers and cooks wear gloves and masks, each menu and booth be wiped down after each customer, and tables be spaced out to ensure social distancing.

“I think right now it's time to show our community that we’re going to take this seriously and get it right," Sprague added.

Down the road, Helen's Owner Melanie Fox said more than a dozen tables were served by early afternoon. Helen's is obviously following the CDC guidelines and then some.

“We offer hand sanitizer for every guest that comes in," Fox added.

As restaurants reopen the biggest question for owners in Fox's position is, what about tourists? Ellsworth is located on the route to Bar Harbor which normally brings tens of thousands of cars through the city every day.

Credit: NCM

“It’s more than important it's monumental to our longevity of being able to be here," Fox said about tourism supporting her restaurant. “It’s what you need to survive for the winter months to come.” 

While these restaurants were eager to open back up for customers, some just aren't ready.

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“I just didn’t think we were ready, you know I wanted to be able to go in and make sure I was doing it right," General Manager of Pat's Pizza Tim McCarthy said. “I wanted to maximize the amount of dine-in customers I could get should they want to join us.” 

McCarthy added the plan is to open the dining area for customers on June 1.

Janna Richards is the Director of Economic Development for the City of Ellsworth. She said some restaurants, like Pat's, are waiting to open.

“A lot of them want to be able to ensure they’re providing the proper safety and abiding by the guidelines and that takes time in order to do that," Richards said.

She added the city is in the planning process of adding outdoor space for downtown businesses and restaurants to create an open-air market to make customers feel safer while supporting local businesses. 

RELATED: Portland City Council to vote on plan to create open-air market amid COVID-19

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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