Easing back open in New Paltz

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Restaurateurs just venturing back into business are finding that people are supporting that transition. The topic came up during an online conversation last week with Doug and Teresa Thompson, who reopened Main Street Bistro in New Paltz two weeks ago for takeout and delivery only. The Thompsons and other local business owners chatted with village officials last week about the phased transition out of pandemic life, including what changes they’re making in their establishments and what changes they’d like to see coming from their elected leaders.

Doug Thompson purchased Main Street Bistro in 1993, six years after starting to work there. What he’s had to do in response to the global pandemic is unlike anything he’s faced before. Chairs have been pulled and booths reconfigured to accommodate social distancing guidelines, contact-free payments from the table are ready to go, and he’s hopeful that he’ll be able to allow 50% capacity inside by July. For now, the takeout and delivery business is much more robust than he and Teresa expected. The software they’ve adopted would even allow for customers to order without a server, but that’s a change they won’t make if they can avoid it. The Bistro’s servers are a core part of the experience, Doug feels, and it pains him that it’s not even part of the job description right now, with orders being taken curbside and only four days a week.

Jar’d owner Theresa Fall has also started providing takeout on the weekends, as tourists are starting to appear in Water Street Market again despite all the chairs being removed. She has found business also to be strong, but credits that to little competition at the moment for the limited visitors.

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One way to safely increase seating in the warmer months is to use the outdoors. There’s no real space for that by the Bistro right now, but McGillicuddy’s Brian Keenan said that he’d like to explore borrowing the empty parking lot behind his establishment for that. Mayor Tim Rogers cautioned that such creative solutions might run into site-plan issues if handled on a case-by-case basis, but mused that trustees might consider legislation instead. Deputy Mayor KT Tobin said it was even suggested to her that Main Street parking spots could be co-opted to provide more seating area. The idea might have merit, but Teresa Thompson asked the age-old New Paltz question: “Where do you park?”