Monday, September 21, 2020

Lake George: Let guests dine outside now!

UPDATE: Outside dining is now allowed. NYS changed the rule after The Chronicle went to press.

By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor

Lake George is pushing hard to win an immediate okay for customers to dine outside at the resort’s and region’s restaurants.

Sit-down dining isn’t scheduled for possible opening until the state’s Phase Three, which can’t start sooner than June 17, but business owners argue that customers would eat more safely at restaurants’ maintained outdoor facilities.

Joe Mondella, owner of The Lagoon in the Village Mall overlooking the lake, said during a Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce post-Memorial Day debriefing that his outdoor seating and tables can’t be used even though his employees can sanitize them each time they’re used.

Instead, he said he sees people taking food and sitting on park benches and on docks, on places not sanitized at all and possibly leaving trash on the ground or its ending up in the lake.

Lodging operator Frank Dittrich said they’re seeing a problem of food waste piling from guests having to eat in their rooms. “We’re being pressed into going into rooms more than we would like.”

Restaurants are not eligible to provide sit-down dining until Phase 3 of the state’s lockdown reopening, which isn’t set to start until June 17 at the earliest.

Warren County and businesses have been lobbying hard for the state to authorize outdoor dining — with social distancing and the other precautions — now.

Mr. Mondella said, “Many of us will not make it through the summer if some of these regulations are not lifted, not that we want to be unsafe, not that we’re greedy… “If this doesn’t get fixed quickly, everybody’s gonna be in trouble.”

Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director Gina Mintzer said, “I just wish we could have outdoor seating. I know that’s big push to help our businesses stay afloat.”

Advocates have formed The Alliance of Lake George Businesses to press their cause. Mr. Mondella said it’s purposely inclusive, not just bars and restaurants.

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