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Waterfront businesses adjust to reopening

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward Holly Montalvo and her son Lorenzo enjoy a day at the Boardwalk as waterfront businesses continue reopening.

Businesses at the waterfront are happy to be open once more and people are enjoying it.

“It’s nice to have the businesses open,” Holly Montalvo stated. “It’s a little uncomfortable having to wear the mask, but it’s better than not going out.”

Demetri’s manager Vasilios Tsirtsakis told the OBSERVER that “it feels good to be open.”

“It’s nice to be back to work after being closed three months; we’ve never been like that ever,” Tsirtsakis stated. “Having the patio is a big help, when it’s nice out, people would rather eat out there.”

Tsirtsakis shared that it wasn’t much of a challenge reopening since the state provided all the guidelines and with the continued popularity of take out Demetri’s is trying to get set up with Chow Now to do online ordering.

“It’s a changing world,” Tsirtsakis added.

Demetri’s biggest concern is being more of a seasonal restaurant. Even though they are open year round, the area by the pier sees the bulk of its business in the summer.

“We’re going to see a decrease for sure,” Tsirtsakis said. “It’s hard because everything was closed and once people were allowed to go out, this isn’t an accurate reflection of how it’s going to be all summer. That whole week of July Fourth is usually non-stop busy. That’s where we’re going to see a decrease for sure.”

Their biggest concern is if another wave shuts them down again.

“Unfortunately because of the size of the business we’re excluded from a lot of assistance from the city,” Tsirtsakis added. “There’s programs available from the Small Business Association and the county, taking out loans and such, but we don’t want to keep borrowing money because you don’t know what the future is, if there is a second wave that comes and shuts everything down again.”

Last year Demetri’s business took hit due to Pier construction, this year it’s coronavirus causing a downturn. These are both issues the restaurant has faced.

The Clarion on the other hand never really closed. Hotels were considered essential business and were allowed to stay open, however they took a hit when it came to all the party reservations they had.

“Every event through the month of August has either been cancelled or postponed until next year,” explained General Manager Martha Frey. “We’re not reopening those services because it’s very hard to have food service open at 50% capacity, especially outside where people just walk up. It’s too hard to control.”

Frey said that for every block of rooms reserved for events, they’ve been able to book them for seasonal and railway workers; so the trade off has kept the hotel busy.

“We’re doing remodeling in the areas we don’t have open,” Frey added.

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