Restaurants welcome easing of dine-in restrictions and hope for further increase in occupancy

Chef Inasal Restaurant & Grill in Upper Tumon (PNC photo)

Indoor dining is back on! Since then, how have restaurants been doing?

With the easing of restrictions bringing back indoor dining up to 25 percent occupancy, not only were restaurants able to bring back regular customers but the rest of their staff as well.

Chef Inasal and King’s Harmon are among the many that were able to open their restaurant for dine-in since the directive took effect on Saturday.

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Chef Inasal owner and executive chef Jefferey Lavarino and King’s Harmon General Manager Frank Solomon expressed how glad they are with the easing of the dining-in restrictions since this meant more customers, more hours, and steady income for their staff.

“Adding in the dining was a really big help for us, even though it’s just 25 percent, it attracts more customers. A lot of people want to go out already. Some of them have been vaccinated, some of them don’t but they still want to go out and treat themselves,” Lavarino said.

He added: “Our employees, we gave them more hours now, not like the previous months.”

Frank Solomon, manager of King’s Harmon, echoed Lavarino’s sentiment saying they are seeing more customers.

“When we re-opened for dine-in, we had a good start, it was coming back around. We were able to bring back most of our employees and we’re happy about that because they have their families and we were concerned about our employees and their families and how the restrictions would affect their livelihood,” Solomon said.

Both Lavarino and Solomon hope that the decrease in positive cases will continue, so they and all other restaurants can return back to normal.

“We hope the governor will ease more restrictions and, we hope, like what’s happening right now, with COVID cases going down, we will be good. So hopefully, there will be no more COVID cases in the next few days so we can return back to normal,” Lavarino said.

Solomon said: “With the pandemic, it’s unfortunate that some of the restaurants had to close down. It’s sad because being in the restaurant business is very tough. We’re fortunate to stay alive, make ends meet and stay afloat. We adapted to the new norm.”

Patrick Perez, director of operations for Chili’s and Subway, shares the same sentiments with Solomon and Lavarino.

Perez said they really prepared before reopening for dine-in. He announced that they are probably the first and possibly the only restaurant chain to have 5-air filtration units set up in their restaurants.