BOSTON (CBS) – It’s hard to imagine the COVID-19 pandemic has a silver lining, but for restaurant owners, alfresco dining has been a salvation. “It’s a beautiful thing,” Francesco Graceffa, owner of Dolce Vita in North End, told WBZ.
Al fresco dining – and takeaway cocktails – will be the norm in Massachusetts for at least a few months. On Wednesday, Governor Baker signed a legislative compromise to extend some of the most popular pandemic restrictions. Eating outdoors will continue until at least April 2022.
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While these additions are beneficial for the badly hit restaurant industry, the reality of getting back to business comes with some speed bumps: namely, staff and supply.
Take the situation in Duxbury, for example. Oyster farmers who struggled with perishable crops and no orders during the pandemic are now inundated with restaurant orders. “When the pandemic hit, it was devastating and now we can no longer meet demand,” Merry Oysters’ oyster farmer Don Merry told WBZ.
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Restaurants at the other end of the supply chain are not only faced with a lack of food, but also with a shortage of staff. “We have a big problem,” Graceffa told WBZ. “I need at least two or three waiters. I need a few bus drivers, people in the kitchen, simple things. “
The Massachusetts Restaurant Association says efforts to meet demand are to be expected given the rapid return to statewide business. “That’s because every restaurant is operating from 60 percent to 100 percent at the same time,” said MRA President Bob Luz. “You know, you just can’t do that in the whole state, in the whole country, in the whole world.”
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Luz stated that restaurants are asking their customers to be patient over the coming months as the industry works to return to normal with all the challenges. “This allows the supply chain to keep pace with demand,” he said. “We’re not going to jeopardize the guest experience, so patience is really a priority for our staff and guests.”