Spartanburg restaurants welcome customers back with outdoor dining

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Starting on Monday, outdoor dining became available at restaurants across the state.

7 News spoke with some Spartanburg restaurants about what this means for their business, and we learned what customers have to say about it.

For many restaurant workers, Monday morning in downtown Spartanburg was spent cleaning and setting tables, which is something that–because of the Coronavirus–hasn’t been done in a while.

“This business has been in my family for 30 years, before I was even born,” Gabi Marmolino said. “I was born into it. I’ve been in the kitchen my whole life. I love it. It’s our livelihood.”

Gabi Marmolino doesn’t know a life without the Italian restaurant, Renato’s; but the impact the virus has had on her family’s business made her worry that she soon might.

“We don’t want all of this that we’ve been working on our whole lives to be washed away because we can’t sell any food,” Marmolino said.

So, when she heard her family’s restaurant could start seating customers outside again, she was thrilled.

“All of this has been very strange and out of nowhere, really,” she said. “We’ve been doing to-go orders for the past two months.”

Diners were just as excited.

“Definitely to get back out of the house and get back into some normalcy,” James Davignon said.

Renato’s will be following the CDC’s guidelines, waiting on tables that are at least eight feet apart.

“Everybody in the kitchen and all of our servers will be wearing gloves and masks,” Marmolino said. “After every table leaves, we’ll sanitize each table, each station.”

Another local business that only serves food outside spent all weekend and all day Monday getting ready to open.

“We’re just trying to go above and beyond all restrictions that were placed so we can do everything to make our guests as safe and comfortable as possible,” Christian McKinney, with the Fr8 Yard, said.

Employees at the Fr8 Yard will also be required to wear personal protective equipment, and tables–eight feet apart–will be cleaned after each use.

“We have a third of what we normally have out there, as far as tables go,” McKinney said. “The condiment ‘serve yourself’ station is now going to be our sanitizing station.”

The Fr8 Yard will have employees monitoring closely, making sure everyone is maintaining proper social distancing, which is something customers were happy to hear.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction for sure,” Davignon said.

“I think you need to be careful, but not scared,” Lesa LePage said.

Both businesses told 7 News they’re most excited about seeing faces they haven’t seen in weeks.

“I want to see everybody,” McKinney said. “I want to have a beer with some people.”

“I can’t wait to see people sitting and enjoying time with their families and friends over a good meal. There’s nothing like it,” Marmolino said.

The Fr8 yard says each of their employees will be screened before starting a shift. And Renato’s asks that if you are not feeling well or have any symptoms, please stay at home.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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