© 2021 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WEDH · WEDN · WEDW · WEDY · WNPR
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Connecticut Restaurants Push For Expanded Capacity Limits

The San Marino Ristorante Italiano restaurant in Waterbury has brought back about half of its business, but La Bella Vista banquet hall, about 5 miles away, has struggled with indoor gathering capacity limits.
Ali Oshinskie
/
Connecticut Public Radio
The San Marino Ristorante Italiano in Waterbury has brought back about half of its business, but La Bella Vista banquet hall, about 5 miles away, has struggled with indoor gathering capacity limits.

Tony D’Elia owns San Marino Ristorante Italiano and La Bella Vista in Waterbury. One’s a restaurant, one’s a banquet hall. And he's among the many restaurant owners pushing to increase the capacity of indoor and outdoor dining in the state.

We depend on your support. Donate to Connecticut Public today.

The hall holds 600 to 700 customers, but under current pandemic state guidelines, indoor private events -- like ones held at a banquet hall -- are capped at 25 people. Outdoor events are limited to 100, and restaurants can operate at 50% capacity.

Tony D'Elia at San Marino Ristorante Italiano in Waterbury. His restaurant has gotten 50 to 60% of business back since March but his banquet hall has lost almost all of its business due to indoor gathering capacity limits.
Credit Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio
/
Connecticut Public Radio
Tony D'Elia at San Marino Ristorante Italiano in Waterbury. His restaurant has gotten 50% to 60% of its business back since March, but his banquet hall has lost almost all of its business due to indoor gathering capacity limits.

“As far as the banquet hall, that toll is pretty much -- we’ve lost just about 90% of our business,” D’Elia says, “because we can’t really do anything inside. We’re built for 600 to 700 people, we’re only allowed 25, so we can’t even open the door for 25 people.”

The federal Paycheck Protection Program was passed to help businesses weather the pandemic. D’Elia got $177,000 from the program, but the money was hard to use as customers canceled events and he had little need to employ workers without them.

“The PPP is great and it’s a big support,” D’Elia said, standing outside his restaurant. “It’d be better if we could earn our own keep and open up further, especially in the banquet facilities.”

Diners eat outside San Marino Ristorante Italiano in Waterbury. Outdoor gathering limits are capped at 100 people but outdoor dining is encouraged for Connecticut restaurants as long as distancing can be maintained.
Credit Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio
/
Connecticut Public Radio
Diners eat outside San Marino Ristorante Italiano in Waterbury. Outdoor gathering limits are capped at 100 people, but outside dining is encouraged for Connecticut restaurants as long as adequate distancing can be maintained.

Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, said he’s pushing for the state to expand gathering capacities and prove that restaurants can host events safely.

“Maybe the next move is 150 [people] outside and 50 inside. And let’s start there,” Dolch said.

Gov. Ned Lamont postponed Phase 3 of the state's reopening plan earlier this month to avoid surges in coronavirus cases and the possibility of another shutdown.

Related Content