Restaurant owners in Montgomery County said Sunday that they were grateful to be able to welcome customers back indoors to sit down and eat, just in time for Valentine’s Day, as the county lifted the indoor dining ban.
The ban had been in effect since mid-December, when coronavirus cases were on the rise. Restaurants are now allowed to fill up to 25 percent of their space with customers.
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"Just to be able to get out and do something is very uplifting. And we’re very grateful that the county started out on such an a momentous day as Valentine’s Day," one diner, Marty Golding, said.
At Mykonos Grill, a Greek restaurant in Rockville, Golding and Sharon Fine enjoyed a Valentine’s Day dinner inside one of their favorite restaurants for the first time in a long time.
“Mykonos is very special to us, we always frequent them for carryout," Fine said. "We do frequent all of our local restaurants because we feel it’s so important for them to stay in business."
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Mykonos has very limited outdoor dining space, so reopening their dining room is important to its survival.
"You know, carry out, it's more for fast casual or fast food restaurants, right? We are indoor dining, fine dining, so people want to come, mingle and relax... so, it was not easy," the restaurant's owner, Angelo Mitsotakis, said.
Montgomery County was the last jurisdiction in Maryland to lift the ban. Dining is limited to 90 minutes, and restaurants have to stop serving alcohol by 10 p.m. in Rockville.
In Potomac, Old Angler's Inn thrived with outdoor dining, as loyal customers took advantage of the heated spaces and socially distanced tables. Now they can return to the cozy indoor tables and roaring fireplace.
“I’m just grateful to be getting back to a new normal," Sara Reges, the owner, said. "I'm so happy for the support we've had from the community and all of our patrons, and I'm so grateful that we're finally opening up and getting back to what we need to be."