DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — With tables spaced out and surrounded by plastic partitions, El Camino in downtown Delray Beach is still serving up specials while trying to survive a pandemic.
"It's difficult to take care of everyone with limited capacity, and the 11 p.m. curfew, it kind of cuts our night short," general manager Scott Adams said.
Adams said sales are down about 20-35% from this time last year. With many people still reluctant to eat out, COVID-19 has impacted the restaurant industry across the board.
"It's just been a lot of extra work making sure the staff is in proper (personal protection equipment) and making sure the guests are wearing their masks," Adams said.
To boost confidence and provide more outdoor space during Restaurant Month, Delray Beach's Downtown Development Authority is hosting "Distanced Dining in the Park." Tents and tables are spaced 12 feet apart at Old School Square Park in the heart of downtown.
"We have hand-washing stations," downtown activation manager Marusca Gatto said. "We have sanitizing stations. We are giving away hand sanitizer, giving away masks."
The DDA is dubbing the initiative, which kicked off Tuesday, a physically-distanced yet socially-connected outdoor dining experience. Diners can pick up food at any restaurant downtown or have it delivered to the park for free by Delivery Dudes. Diners are also allowed to bring drinks into the park, as long as they are consumed on-site.
"I think it's a great idea," Kathy Willets, who stopped by with a small group of her friends, said. "I think people need to know about this because it's like a night out free."
Several small businesses in the city said they are grateful and hope the DDA's initiative is another way to help boost their bottom line.
"That's something we needed to give us a little boost," Adams said. "I hope we can keep that stuff going and have everybody take advantage of that."
Distanced Dining in the Park runs through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Free parking is available in the Old School Square garage. For more information, click here.