Cooling temperatures, coupled with Governor Charlie Baker’s loosening of restrictions for bar seating and parties of 10 or more, have restaurant owners looking to bring more patrons indoors. But fears about the airborne transmission of the coronavirus mean owners need new ways of making people feel safe.
Now, after having scrambled to buy outdoor tables and seating for the summer months, restaurateurs are investing in barriers of all shapes and sizes to help create state-compliant divisions between diners.
At Gaslight in the South End, Jeff Gates installed partitions between his tables this week and is waiting for a contractor to install plexiglass for the bar, as well.
“You’re spending about $300 for a booth, $400 for a bar seating, and $500 for a mobile partition,” he said, but the partitions allow him to add 16 more seats, which will equate to $12,000 to $15,000 a week in additional sales.
Andy Husbands, the owner of Smoke Shack BBQ restaurants, took a more DIY approach this week.
He and his team built 20 mobile partitions at his home in Stoneham. Each plexiglass divider cost about $170 to make, he said, but they’ll allow him to nearly double the occupancy of the restaurants.
And in Milton, the architect who designed the restaurants Novara and Abby Park also designed their sleek plexiglass dividers, which were installed shortly after indoor dining resumed in the state.
“We’re very proud of our COVID-modern look,” joked Vance Welch, the restaurants’ managing partner. “I think we’ll have a hard time taking them away, people like them so much."