PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s been a major setback on the road to recovery for small businesses in Philadelphia. The city is likely postponing the reopening of indoor dining.
For many restaurant owners, Aug. 1 was a date circled in red. It was expected businesses could allow restricted indoor dining on that date.
But with increases in COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia, that likely won’t be happening.
For Bobby Saritsoglou, opening his own restaurant — Stina — was always his dream.
“It’s named after my wife, Christina,” he said. “We have really great pizza. We have a wood-burning oven.”
The tiny 24-seat spot in South Philly, near 17th Street and Snyder Avenue, opened a little over a year ago.
“About nine months in, the pandemic hit, so on March 15 we did close down, and we did close for about four months,” Saritsoglou said.
He reopened just last week with a brand new outdoor dining space.
“We just wanted to make people feel comfortable and also safe too. We have everything spaced beyond six feet. It’s almost eight feet,” Saritsoglou said.
The city had originally planned to allow modified indoor dining on Aug. 1.
“I can tell you right now, with case rates rising, it looks unlikely we would allow that to start Aug. 1,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
“No matter what, even if they said we were allowed to open, I wasn’t going to reopen inside. It’s too small and confined. It’s totally unsafe for us,” Saritsoglou said.
Across town and along the Delaware River, other businesses are focusing on the outdoor scene as well.
“The Philly River Stroll is just our initiative to get people safely outdoors enjoying themselves,” Rylan Murphy said.
Murphy is the manager at the River Beer Garden, part of a row of options along the water, with outdoor food and beverage options, since indoor dining is still banned.
“The Aug. 1 deadline is definitely not happening. So we’ve had to sort of take our indoor concepts and create our outdoor spaces for that to happen,” Murphy said.
“We just need what we need to kind of get through right now,” Saritsoglou said.
Not all restaurants have the ability to offer outdoor seating. One owner Eyewitness News spoke with says he’s keeping his business closed until indoor dining is allowed at 50% capacity.