Lehigh Valley restaurant owners rally for chance to expand indoor dining ahead of winter

Written by on October 20, 2020

Lehigh Valley restaurant owners rally for chance to expand indoor dining ahead of winter

By WLVR Staff

October 20, 2020

Photo | Lisa Moy / PBS39

On Monday afternoon, the Lehigh Valley Restaurant Owners Alliance held a rally on Main Street in Bethlehem in response to the governor’s recent veto of legislation to increase dining capacity.

With outdoor dining soon to be curtailed by cold weather, alliance members say up to 60% of restaurants statewide could be in danger of closing for good. 

Bruce Haines, managing partner at Historic Hotel Bethlehem, says the state limits for the hotel’s larger spaces don’t line up with restaurant seating.

“So I’m allowed to have 50% capacity in the restaurant, but I’m only allowed to have 25 people, which is less than 10% capacity, in our 250- or 400-person ballroom right next door.” 

The alliance is calling for legislation that allows for bar seating with social distancing and eliminates the requirement that a mean must be purchased to get alcoholic beverages. 

“As the winter is approaching, as the fall weather is here, it’s getting colder at night, and we’re seeing less and less people that want to do outdoor dining. So again, we’re just asking for a little support to let us go back inside, allow us to do more with bar service, counter service, and continue to operate,” said Pete Tsihlis of Machs Gute Pub in Bethlehem.

Brett Biggs also took part in the event. He owns the Tavern at the Sun Inn and the Clubhouse Grille at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course.

“We need a little help. And I think everybody’s tired of taking money from the government to be that help. So, let us work, let us be responsible and move forward together.”

The alliance also wants restaurant operations and private events restored to 50% capacity and to allow alcohol sales after 11 p.m. 

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