Pair of Southern Md. restaurants thrilled to welcome customers back to outdoor tables

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A few people sat outside when outdoor service opened at Stoney’s Seafood House in Prince Frederick, Maryland.

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Stoney’s’ owner said his restaurant employees are being sure to wear masks, gloves and go above and beyond government recommendations for sanitization.

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Stoney’s can usually host over 100 people inside. Now it’s restricted to just a few tables outside.

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Stoney’s in Prince Frederick, Maryland said the support of existing customers has been helpful during the pandemic-imposed shutdown.

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Nearby La Tolteca also has some outdoor seating.

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maximum occupancy
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A pair of restaurant owners in two different Maryland counties are thrilled to have customers to serve starting on Friday night.

Jason Madella, the owner of Stoney’s Seafood House in Prince Frederick, and Gary Fick, his corollary at the Blue Dog Saloon in Port Tobacco, both said they’re looking forward to being able to have customers sit down for outdoor dining this weekend.

“We’re excited to finally be able to serve people,” Madella said.

Stoney’s has been doing carryout only for the last two months as restaurants shut down for in-person dining during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Blue Dog has been closed completely, aside from one week at the beginning of the shut down.

“We’re very out of the way. Curbside was not very effective for us,” Fick, of the Blue Dog said.

“We are ecstatic to be back in business again.”

While Madella’s restaurant is not “an outdoor restaurant,” with only five tables, the chance to see customers in person comes with both some excitement, and some extra precautions to be sure everyone can dine safely.

“We bought a new spray for tables and chairs, sanitizers for the entrance at the restaurant, and we’ll be wearing masks and gloves,” Madella said, enumerating some of the safety protocols beyond just the basics recommended by the Calvert County and state government.

Fick, of the Blue Dog, said one reason he decided to close his Charles County restaurant for over two months was that many of his employees are older, and he wanted to make sure they wouldn’t be taking any unnecessary risks during the early days of the pandemic.

His restaurant normally can manage 30 diners outside, but due to social distancing requirements, they’re limited to just 20 right now.

Madella, who can usually seat 180 people inside his restaurant called this weekend “an experiment.”

He’s hopeful that the first phase in Maryland goes well and he can begin to welcome guests inside, again.

“I’m hoping at the very least, we’ll be able to have 50% capacity inside of the restaurant,” Madella said.

Fick’s restaurant seats 110 people indoors, so serving just 20 will be a change, as well.
“We are ecstatic to be back in business again,” he said.

And Fick has a prediction for the remainder of the summer for his restaurant where crab cakes and prime rib are the specialties.

“I think business is going to come back strong, especially once they let us back inside. If business comes back strong, then we’re going to be fine.”

Both Madella and Fick stressed that the relationships they have with their customers have become even stronger during the pandemic.

Fick said he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world right now but Charles County, because it’s home to “some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life, they’ve been extremely supportive And always will continue to be.”

For Madella, who has been able to stay open for takeout orders, he’s gotten significant support from his regulars.

“A lot of people have come in more than they normally do in some cases, and we’re just so appreciative of that,” he said.

“People say they know restaurants are struggling in general. To anyone that’s come in and said that, it’s much appreciated.”


More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report.

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