SOUTHINGTON – Businesses around the state have been adjusting to new rules and regulations prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The New Mill Restaurant is no exception. The restaurant, at 493 South End Road, has erected a 96 by 39 foot tent in the parking lot to accommodate as many as 40 tables under normal circumstances. The New Mill began with 19 tables, which are six feet apart.
“It’s been a pretty difficult last two months,” New Mill manager Dave Jenkins said. “We started takeout shortly after the shutdown. We were doing alright with it. But when other restaurants started opening patios, we took a hit. So we put the tent up.”
The tent opened on May 29. Customers can choose from the Outdoor Tent Dining Menu Tuesday through Sunday.
“The response has been great,” Jenkins said. “People love it. We did it up really nice with some palm trees and lights. It doesn’t feel like you are in a parking lot. It feels like you are in a resort having dinner.”
Jenkins said the New Mill is doing about a third of its normal business. The state’s Phase 2 reopening June 17 will allow indoor dining up to 50 percent of a restaurant’s capacity. The bar will remain closed. The tent will remain up until the restaurant is open to full capacity.
Customers must wear masks, except when they are seated. Jenkins said the vast majority of the customers have followed the guidelines.
Jenkins said guest should be comfortable dining at the New Mill.
“We are doing all of the steps with masks and sanitizing,” Jenkins said. “The tables are spread out and no one is on top of each other. The waitstaff feels comfortable and are happy to be back at work.”
Reservations are preferred for the weekends. Friday and Saturdays have been full. Jenkins said this past weekend was busy.
“We needed it,” he said.