TRENTON, NJ -- Restaurants that would normally have been packed on summer nights today learned that just in time for the start of Labor Day Weekend, the unofficial close of the season, indoor dining may resume on Friday, Sept. 4. Eateries may only allow 25% of their capacity indoors, Gov. Phil Murphy announced via Twitter on Monday morning. 

Restaurants statewide will be able to open for indoor dining beginning this FRIDAY at 25% capacity and with social distancing between tables. Reopening responsibly will help us restore one of our state’s key industries while continuing to make progress against #COVID19. @GovMurphy

The news has been welcomed by local restaurant owners, many of whom have operated well below their normal revenue levels by relying on takeout and deliveries since the March and outdoor dining since July. However, these alternatives made up for only a fraction of the revenues the restaurants normally would take in during pre-pandemic times. In general, restaurants have struggled, according to just about every owner. 

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"I'm excited to be coming back on Friday. It's about time," said Nick Zalokostas of Scotchwood Diner. "We look forward to seeing our customers back, our family and friends. We will do things the right way to keep our customers healthy and safe."

"Restaurants have lost more than any other industry due to the epidemic. I invite our customers to please come back and see us," the veteran diner owner added. 

"We are looking forward to having people back inside. I think we can do it safely. It's about time, to be frank. We have been last on the block compared to other businesses on the governor's sights," said Joe Mortarulo, owner of Houdini Pizza in Fanwood and Darby Road in Scotch Plains. "I'm excited about it, and we are looking forward to Friday evening."

"I'm really pleased to hear this news, but what we are really looking forward to is the day when we can open again at full capacity," said Sean Flannery, owner of Sheelen's Crossing, who survived COVID earlier this year.

"It's a start, we'll be ready to open at 25% capacity on Friday," said Greg Kowalczyk of Fabio's Pizza and Bistro in Fanwood.

One manager at Stage House Tavern in Scotch Plains said "We've been waiting for this since outdoor dining was allowed, we want to thank Governor Murphy for allowing us to do this. We still plan to follow all COVID-19 precautions, we want our guests to feel safe when dining with us." is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily local news source. Sign up for our free daily eNewsletter and “Like” us on Facebook and Twitter @SPF_TAP. Download the free TAPinto App for iPhone or Android.

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