Most Block Island restaurants looking to re-open in June

Governor gave go-ahead for May 18 outdoor dining
Thu, 05/14/2020 - 5:30pm
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Now that Gov. Gina Raimondo has stated restaurants can re-open as early as May 18 for outdoor dining with strict safety and health protocols, Block Island restaurateurs are beginning to think about what the coming summer will look like, and how — or if — they can open up while adhering to the governor’s guidelines by next week.

Most of the restaurant owners or operators The Block Island Times talked to said they would not be able to open for outdoor dining by May 18, but most will continue to offer their takeout menus until mid-June. Because rooming houses and hotel rooms cannot yet be rented on the island due to the town’s emergency ordinance, many of the owners and operators also said they simply did not have enough staff to open effectively by May 18. Another underlying worry for some is whether or not people will travel to the island either by boat or ferry even when things do open up.

Raimondo issued a statement on Monday, May 11, that read, in part: “A week from today — May 18 — restaurants will be able to begin limited outdoor dining in addition to their take-out, delivery and drive-through operations.”

According to the governor’s rules, outdoor dining “will be by reservation only and groups may not exceed five people in accordance with social gathering limits; Tables must be spaced at least eight feet apart or separated by barriers, and no more than 20 tables total will be allowed in any outdoor space; shared objects are out in favor of things such as one-time-use paper menus, disposable utensils, and cashless and contactless payment methods. All high-traffic areas will have to be frequently cleaned. Tables and chairs will be sanitized in between parties.”

Raimondo said, “We expect this outdoor dining approach to continue for at least a few weeks before we advance to indoor restaurant dining. The soonest we’re likely to authorize indoor dining is June 1.”

Brenna and Ross Audino are the owners of TigerFish and Poor People’s Pub. PPP is currently open seven days a week for lunch and dinner takeout with curbside service (pppbi.com for the menu), or they’ll deliver to your car if that is preferable. Brenna Audino said they plan on opening TigerFish on May 18 for outdoor dining.

Kristen Kiley, owner of Las Gatitos, Winfield’s and Yellow Kittens said she is eyeing a mid-June opening for all three restaurants. Katie Scortino of Capt. Nick’s said no opening date had been set as of yet.

Jess Wronowski, owner of Finn’s Restaurant and the adjoining fish market in New Harbor, said “we were always planning on opening the fish market at Finn’s on May 22, but now that we can do outdoor seating we’re trying to do some at Finn’s that would start on May 22, on weekends.” Take out will be available at Finn’s for fish orders and limited cooked items. She hoped to expand that to seven days a week sometime in June. As for Dead Eye Dick’s in New Harbor, that opening has been pushed back to June 17 “and we’ll stick to that,” Wronowski said. Updated information can be found at finnsseafood.com.

Brad Marthens, co-owner of Eli’s and The Atlantic Inn, said that Eli’s will continue to do takeout on the weekends. “That’s been going really well,” he said, and he and his wife Ann are trying to put a plan in place for outdoor dining at The Atlantic Inn, but he has no plans to open that hotel and restaurant by May 18. Takeout orders can be emailed to elistakeout@ gmail.com on Fridays and Saturdays.

Blake Filippi, owner of the Hotel Manisses on Spring Street with his brother Paul, said “we’re shooting for a June opening, with private tables placed throughout our beautiful gardens. Takeout is on the menu, including our diverse wine palate.” For more information visit hotelmanisses.com.

Julie Fuller, manager of The National, said “we are targeting June 12 to open the restaurant. We don’t have a staff and my kids will attest to the fact that I should not be cooking food in a restaurant. We will be doing takeout for house rentals.” The porch at The National has 43 tables, but Fuller will not be able to seat them all due to the social distancing requirements. The hotel will open on June 5, Fuller said. For more information visit blockislandhotels.com.

On May 12, when The Block Island Times spoke to Steve Filippi, owner of Ballard’s Inn, he was originally scheduled to open. He is now scheduled to open mid-June. Ballard’s has issued a statement that details the iconic venue’s approach to keeping its guests healthy and safe. Menus will be disposable, patrons will pay by phone, and there will be social distancing, said Filippi. For more details, visit ballardsbi.com.

Over on the other side of town, at Club Soda, co-owner Max Balmforth said he wouldn’t be ready to open by May 18, but will continue his weekday takeout service. Takeout can be ordered Monday through Friday and orders can be called in during the hours the pub is open: 5 to 8 p.m. each weeknight. The number is (401) 466-5397.

Becky Pappas said it was a little early to be seating people out on the deck at the Beachead on Corn Neck Road, but she was trying to put together a plan for a takeout menu by Memorial Day weekend. Check out the menu at beacheadbi.com.

Paige Gaffett of the Old Island Pub said the pub was “having an employee meeting this weekend and we’ll figure out more then. As for May 18, we’ll still be doing take out. We’re not going to rush into anything. I don’t want to push it too hard.” Ordering for Taco Tuesdays at the OIP can be phoned in at (401) 466-2400.

Kathleen McAloon, owner of McAloon’s, said she will continue doing takeout on Fridays and Sundays, and did not currently have plans to open her outdoor patio on May 18, but was looking into supplies for disposable utensils and plates to plan for an eventual re-opening. Call (401) 466-2928 after 4 p.m. on Fridays and Sundays for pickup between 5 and 6 p.m. This Sunday, May 17, Kathleen will be offering a turkey dinner.