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Local restaurant owners relieved as three-week shutdown ends

LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Restaurants will reopen Monday after being closed for three weeks. Eyewitness News spoke with owners about how this second shutdown affected their business in both the short term and long term.

"This place should be packed right now," Sabrina Setiz, a waitress at The Grille said. "It's a Sunday morning and we're waiting for the phone to ring."

The state-ordered three-week long shutdown of restaurants has almost come to an end and owners are relieved.

"It feels like a weight has been taken off my chest. A lot of the stress has been taken away, letting us open up tomorrow," D's Diner owner Dan Demelliel said.

Restaurants and diners will open back up to 50 percent capacity on January 4th. Governor Wolf's order in December did allow for takeout, but Setiz says food to-go doesn't really work for her family's diner.

Sabrina setiz, waitress, the grille"Our business is breakfast, so our takeout has been really slow because a lot of people don't order breakfast and it's not the same when you take it home and your eggs are soggy and everything," Setiz said.

Marie Brown, who owns Marie's in Duryea, echoes that concern.

"Not that I don't think the virus is fake or anything like that. I know it's real. I know people who have gotten sick, I know people have died. But there's also people out there that are suffering in different ways, you know, with loss of job, that committed suicide and their lives are just as important as everyone else who lost their life because of COVID," Brown said.

Owners tell Eyewitness News being at 50 percent capacity still doesn't help their business as they just don't have the room.

"We only have limited amount of seats in here. So when we go from 25 percent to 50 percent, it still hurts us. As long as we can have people come in and we serve them and get them out quick enough and keep shuffling people around, we'll be okay," Demelliel said.

Some owners say if another shutdown were to happen, they would have to remain open no matter what to keep afloat.