Diners moved outside during pandemic and liked it

4 Apr 2022

Small Business

It's been nearly two years since Norwich officials sprang into action blocking off downtown parking spaces with concrete barriers and providing picnic tables, so that establishments like La Stella Pizzeria and Billy Wilson's Ageing Still could have outdoor dining.

With diners leery of inside spaces amid the coronavirus pandemic, efforts were made across the region to ensure restaurants that wanted to could open for outdoor dining when it was allowed come May 20, 2020.

"In the first year, it was completely necessary for us to survive," said Justin Burrows, owner of La Stella. While he initially could seat about 40 people outside, the city took away the barricades and tables before that winter, and Burrows said he "survived just fine without the tables outside" last summer. He now just has two two-person tables in front of the entrance.

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