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Lancaster restaurants prepare to reopen with outdoor seating Friday as county moves to yellow phase

The county officially moves into the yellow phase of reopening Friday, and many restaurants are ready and waiting.

LANCASTER, Pa. — After more than two and a half months without no diners inside, restaurants in Lancaster are preparing to welcome them outside. 

The county officially moves into the yellow phase of reopening Friday, and many restaurants are ready and waiting.

Empty for more than two and a half months, Tellus360, located on 24 East King Street, is preparing to put the tables down and open its rooftop seating back up.

“We started to rearrange things,” explained Manager Bill Speakman. “We were out here with a tape measure yesterday.”

Speakman says workers are making sure the tables are six feet apart as well as the backs of chairs. Customers will notice other changes too. For one, the rooftop outside bar area is off limits for now.

“Nobody at the bar area, yeah, there won't be any seating at the bar,” explained Speakman.

Instead, customers will be served their drinks at their tables, among other changes.

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“I mean, it doesn't sound bad, right? You actually get more service than usual,” laughed Speakman. “You can't leave your seat without a mask on, and I don't expect any problems. There is a procedure -- people will be greeted at the door, and they'll be instructed how to walk through the building. No one will be able to use the elevator. It'll be only the stairs.”

Managers hope Tellus360 will be permitted to have outdoor seating on the sidewalk outside too -- that way the people who can't physically walk through the building and up the stairs will still be able to enjoy a bite to eat.

“It would be very cool,” said Speakman. “I think it's something we maybe always wanted to do. It might be a really good time to see how it works out.”

It's a temporary sidewalk cafe permit, and the city created the temporary permit in an effort to help restaurants and bars that are struggling because of COVID-19. 

So far, eight have applied, according to city spokeswoman Amber Strazzo.

“I know the city has worked to simplify it,” said Anne Williams with the Lancaster City Alliance. “I mean, you know it's a government application, and they do have to fill it out, but they worked to make it easy and rush it through the process.”

Not only will there be fine dining on sidewalks, according to Williams, people will also be allowed to eat in designated parking spaces.

“This is really exciting - curbside parklets,” explained Williams. “The restaurants can rent a parking space and offer safe dining options in a parking space.”

Then, you have Rachel’s Cafe and Creperie, located at 201 West Walnut Street, which is also opening for outside seating. Its hours will be from 9-3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. 

A manager told FOX43 the Creperie is following all guidelines regarding table spacing, requiring masks, no reusable menus, and social distancing indicators when waiting for a table, the restrooms, or getting takeout. 

Spring House Brewing Company, located at 209 Hazel Street, is also planning to have outdoor seating. 

The creative measures taken by restaurants will hopefully alleviate COVID-19 concerns while getting people back to work and customers out to eat.

For more information on the temporary sidewalk permits in Lancaster or to apply for one, follow this link.

For a full list of restaurants that are offering takeout and other services, visit Lancaster Restaurant Week’s website. 

As for First Friday, Williams says it is expected to go on as planned.