Outdoor dining again an option

4 mins read

By Mike McCombs

Photo by Bob Sofaly

Monday was the first day restaurants in South Carolina were allowed to open to outside dining after more than a month of curbside and take-out only and several spots around Beaufort took advantage.

The deck was busy at Panini’s on the Waterfront during lunchtime.

“We’re fortunate to have as many seats as we do outside. We were ready for it,” Panini’s owner Paul Thompson. “People were well-behaved with no issues, and the staff was fully up on all the safety precautions. It was a good pace. Nobody got out of control.”

Next door at Hemingway’s Bistro, owner Kanani Robinson, with Thompson’s help, was still making sandwiches plates early into the evening while the patio was as full as it could legally be.

“It was mostly all locals who are ready to come back out,” Robinson said after her supply of sandwiches had finally been exhausted. “The way I look at it, if they’re not too scared to come out, I’ll be here for them.”

Hemingway’s wouldn’t normally serve food outside of the lunch hour, but the popular hangout didn’t stay open to serve take-out and Robinson decided it was time after being closed for 47 days.

Robinson said the bar got a much-needed face lift.

“It was much-needed,” she said. “In 25 years, this place had never been closed longer than a week.”

McMaster’s guidelines for outdoor dining included:

tables, chairs, and seats should be cleaned/sanitized after every customer;

space tables a minimum of 8 feet apart (measured from all edges of the table);

limit table groups to eight individuals;

eliminate gatherings in the building when entering or exiting outdoor seating area;

maintain strict social/physical distancing guidelines;

open areas and temporary tents must have all sides of the tent open;

there must be a state approved fire extinguisher within 75 feet of any tent area;

there must be a minimum 7-foot, 6-inch headroom (ceiling height) in any tent area.

The Governor’s full list of guidelines for outdoor dining can be found at governor.sc.gov.

“It’s going to be interesting over the next couple of weeks,” Thompson said. “We’re very fortunate, we’re going to come out of this OK, we were prepared for it.

“But there’s going to be a lot of struggle, a lot of hurt. Not just restaurants. We’re going to lose too many businesses.”

Who is open?

A good way to find out what Beaufort-area restaurants are offering outdoor dining, as well as their hours and menus offered, is to visit the Facebook group Beaufort SC AREA Curbside, To-Go & Delivery.

Above: Restaurants opened their outdoor seating for lunch Monday in Beaufort. Here, the Maddox family of Beaufort enjoys a day out of quarantine to have lunch at Panini’s. The response from all seated was, “We love it.” 

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