PATERSON, NJ - While Paterson’s restaurant scene may not be world famous yet, the city is home to some of the world’s best restaurants, at least according to Mayor Andre Sayegh, a self-confessed “foodie.”

On Friday Sayegh was celebrating the return of indoor dining, making his first stop at Toros. While the mecca of Turkish cuisine boasts four locations, including in Clifton, Montclair, and New Milford, the small outpost at 1083 Main Street in Paterson remains its flagship location. 

The tables are a bit further apart to allow for appropriate social distancing, staff are all wearing masks, and bottles of hand sanitizer adorn every table, but guests can be assured that Toros Paterson is missing none of its charm, and the food is as delicious as ever.

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“It warms my heart to have these businesses open again,” Sayegh said as he took another sip of the Lentil soup that had been presented to him. While the city’s chief executive added that he is hopeful occupancy limits will be increased soon he warned that such decisions must only be made based on “science and data.”

For now, he assured, he is both “comfortable and confident” dining indoors, as long as everyone follows the guidelines. “Be mindful, don’t do anything rash, have a nice meal, and be on your way,” he suggested.

Taking a quick break from welcoming and serving guests that were arriving to pick up food to go and those sitting outside, Huseyin Bayram sat next to Sayegh and said that while he has been able to keep his staff in place throughout the pandemic the past months have been “so hard for small businesses.”

“For us staff is family,” Bayram said. “We support them and they support us.”

Sayegh offered that it was that sort of commitment to family, and the community, by local restaurant owners that make it so important for residents to get back out and spend their dollars locally. “When you support them you support all of us,” he said.

In the fight against COVID-19, Sayegh concluded, “this is a major step forward.”

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