Earlier this week, brewery and winery staff were pulling out tape measures and setting up as much outdoor seating as they could while still meeting coronavirus-related guidelines for reopening.
The state allowed outdoor dining to reopen Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Witchdoctor Brewing co-owner Michael See was measuring the brewery’s enclosed side parking lot to see how many tables he could fit.
The Southington brewery has set up outdoor seating before, but See said he now has to use folding tables so they can be easily cleaned after every use, per state guidelines.
He said they’d probably be able to fit about 15 tables, seating roughly 70. As long as the tables are at least six feet apart and the crowd does not exceed 50 percent of normal capacity, businesses can set up as many as they want.
Although See is hoping Witchdoctor will be at capacity all weekend, he doesn’t know what to expect.
“I think it's going to be 50/50,” he said. “I think some people are going to be really excited … We would like to see them again and have a bit of normalcy.” Kinsmen, Sauced
At Kinsmen Brewing on Canal Street in Southington, the patio was being expanded to fit more tables and chairs.
“I’m not sure if it's going to be busy or empty,” operations manager Bob Bartholomew said. “Hopefully people can come and have a good experience sitting out on the patio which is really nice and stay safe.”
Staff was busy earlier in the week adding and distancing the tables on the patio outside the taproom, as well as behind the event space.
Because the patio area runs the length of the building in the back, he said there’s lots of room.
“We are setting up a lot of space outside,” Batholomew said. “No one really knows how it works out and how we’re going to adjust.”
The brewery will be serving its usual variety of beers, plus some wine, soda and pre-mixed drinks.
Sauced at Kinsmen, a pizza eatery inside the brewery, will be open as well. The food will come in to-go containers with disposable utensils.Center Street
Center Street Brewing in Wallingford expanded its normal outdoor seating capacity as well, and planned to open Thursday.
“We’re excited to get going but we also want to make sure we’re doing it in a way that’s safe, that’s sustainable and also responsible,” owner Peter Ford said Tuesday.
Ford said the brewery can fit about 35 people in tables outside. They’ve set up tables in the past, but obtained additional permission from the town to extend the tables into a couple parking spots next to the building.
Like Kinsmen and Witchdoctor Brewing, Center Street Brewing’s outdoor seating will be dependent on weather.
“I think the feeling of reopening is mixed amongst the community as far as how people feel,” Ford said. “It’s something I don’t think anyone can anticipate how much we’re expecting.”
Ford said he plans to have extra staff on hand in case it does get busy.
The brewery will have its usual offerings, but won’t do samples or flights for the time being. People can still bring food into the brewery. Gouveia
Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford opened Wednesday, with a “decent amount of people,” according to owners.
“We are excited for our customers to come back, relax, sip our wine, and enjoy our beautiful vistas,” owner Allison Gouveia said in an email. “Our vines are starting to bud, ducklings are swimming on the pond, and it’s starting to feel like life is beginning again!”
The winery is adhering to the same outdoor dining rules as restaurants. Customers should enter the front door and will be seated through a side door to control traffic flow.
They will not be offering wine tastings at this time, but have new meat, cheese and fruit platters available. People can still bring their own food.
Tables will be set up, but patrons can also picnic on the grounds, provided they still socially distance from others. Paradise Hills
Paradise Hills Vineyard in Wallingford, which opened Wednedsday, has similar rules.
“We are following the (Center for Disease Control) and State Guidelines. There will be more information that will be coming out as you arrive to insure the safety for all,” the owners posted on their Facebook page.
The Annual Connecticut Wine Passport program will be postponed indefinitely, but the winter passport program was extended until May 31.
All the above establishments plan to continue offering beer and wine for curbside pickup or takeout.
Customers dining outside must wear face masks unless actively eating and drinking and can only dine in groups of no more than five, per state guidelines.