In Prince George’s County, Maryland, restaurants can open to 25% capacity, but that doesn’t mean all of them will.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, getting into Pasta Plus, in Laurel, often required a long wait, especially since they didn’t take reservations. And patrons who want to eat inside will have to wait a while longer — brothers Massimo and Sabatino Mazziotti, who have run the restaurant in a strip mall at Route 1 and Route 198 for 38 years, said uncertainty about the virus and the rules will leave them sticking to carryout only.
“You cannot sit that many people,” said Massimo Mazziotti, 78, “and because of our age, we feel like it’s a little bit too risky, and I think we wanted to wait.”
The changes in seating limits also play a role.
“Sometimes, you can open 25%, sometimes 50%, sometimes completely closed,” Sabatino Mazziotti said. “Then, if you have employees, what are you going to say: ‘This week you work; next week you don’t go in to work?'”
Carryout orders are helping them stay afloat, with news about vaccines providing optimism that later this year things will get better again.
“It’s surviving, anyway,” said Massimo Mazziotti. “It’s tough, but we’re trying to do the best we can to survive.”
After so many years in business, they both agreed they’ll do everything they can to go out on their terms, not because the virus destroyed their business.
A few miles to the south, Theresa Thompson, one of the owners of the Old Bowie Town Grille, spoke with enthusiasm about getting back to 25% capacity again. It’s been a cold January there.
“In the winter months, right after Christmas, it slows down anyway,” said Thompson. But her busiest day of the year is St. Patrick’s Day, and with that and Valentine’s Day looming, she’s hopeful seating capacities will rise up to 50% again, to go with weather nice enough to attract some outdoor diners, too.
She said she’s trying to keep a positive face on everything.
“I’m just hoping to see some faces that can come in,” said Thompson. “The fact that we can seat up to 25%, we’re thankful. I’m just hoping people come out.”
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