City officials seek help from businesses for what could be a 'morale boost'

You may have heard about the controversy in the Monroe County town of Greece concerning reopening and outdoor dining.

If you haven’t heard, here’s a recap.

Earlier this week, the town of Greece announced it would invite restaurateurs to apply for temporary outdoor seating permits, which would authorize the resumption of sit-down service for sufficiently socially distanced outdoor dining. The hope was to open under this format soon.

"We are applying the state's precautions and regulations,” Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich said to Daily Messenger news partner, News 10NBC, “with common sense.”

Under the state’s current coronavirus reopening plan, however, sit-down service in restaurants is not scheduled to resume until phase three, which is not expected to come until at least mid-June. In fact, the second phase of the region’s reopening was to occur Friday.

Bob Duffy, president of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and point person on the region’s reopening plans, released a statement: “While we like the concept of opening outdoor dining spaces, it is important to not get out in front of a decision-making process. The decision to further open businesses in any region of New York state is Governor Cuomo’s and his only. To go against that without permission would not be advisable.”

Like Greece, Canandaigua has been exploring how best to allow for outdoor dining — and several ideas are being considered.

But the intent has been to open in the third phase as the reopening plan is currently laid out, according to City Manager John Goodwin.

Restaurants are pushing to be allowed to open sooner as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s phased-in reopening of New York for good reason.

Business.

In the Finger Lakes region and elsewhere, bars and restaurants — which have been closed for gatherings but allowed to serve customers by curbside or takeout only since mid-March — would be allowed to reopen in a limited fashion in the third phase. The region is currently in the midst of the first phase of reopening.

A state restaurant group is proposing to open in the second phase of the state's plan, at 50% occupancy of seated areas and 25% in non-seated areas of bars.

In phase three, restaurants could open all of its seated areas; 75% of its outdoor non-seated areas; and 50% of its bar areas so long as social distancing is observed.

In phase four, all areas could reopen, while non-seated areas would still need to keep social distancing, the group proposed.

Canandaigua city officials are continuing to try and come up with a workable plan that would expand the ability of restaurants and some businesses to serve customers outside.

“When restaurants are allowed to reopen, then we can talk about outdoor dining in general,” Goodwin said, but during a recent City Council ordinance committee meeting, he said that is a lot easier than done.

Some of the ideas being tossed about for al fresco dining include: Using the parking lot between the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce and Simply Crepes restaurant; closing off Phoenix Street; closing off Coy Street; and using the Commons Park.

Some also have suggested approaching businesses for use of the sidewalk in front of their stores.

Something has to be done to help the businesses, Mayor Bob Palumbo said.

“We have to do whatever we can do to make this work,” Palumbo said.

All have positives, but all have drawbacks.

For instance, before the pandemic hit, a committee had been formed to look at closing Phoenix Street and creating an outdoor dining area on summer weekends in the future. But, the road itself now is not really safe for pedestrians as a result of work done by NYSEG, Goodwin said. Coy Street might work, as another example, but the roadway is not in the immediate vicinity of bars and restaurants.

“There are no easy answers,” Goodwin said, which is why the city is actively seeking the help and guidance of the business community in doing so.

Businesses should drive this, Councilmember Jim Terwilliger said during the recent meeting, and suggested that business owners get together a workable plan.

“Let’s listen and go for it if we have reasonable plans put before us,” Terwilliger said.

Councilmember Robert O’Brien, who owns Good Life Tea on Main Street, said he is willing to allow table space in front of his store for dining. Maybe, he said, others also would be willing.

The optics of seeing people dining out on sidewalks could showcase what is a lively place, he said.

“It would be a morale boost to see people eating outside,” O’Brien said.

During this painful and confusing time, one thing most all can agree on — the need for a morale boost.

New life

Remember Catch 47, the steak, seafood and raw bar restaurant that closed in March 2019 after being open for a little more than a year?

It looks like there are signs of life at Lakeshore Drive and East Lake Road in Canandaigua.

Coming soon, Laguna Grande, a Mexican restaurant and bar, the sign reads.

We’ll share more information as it becomes available.

Rose Tavern

Earlier this month, The Lake House on Canandaigua announced that Rochester native Scott Riesenberger will be the new executive chef in charge of the redesigned hotel’s food and beverage operation.

Here are a few more details on what to expect when it reopens.

The Rose Tavern, which will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, will serve as the signature restaurant. Right now, it’s scheduled to open Sept. 1, shortly after the hotel opens its doors in August.

Here’s the story behind the name.

Marvin and Mickey Sands founded the Canandaigua Wine Company and Wild Irish Rose was the first product they developed that found commercial success some 50 years ago, according to the folks handing public relations for the operation.

That explains the “Rose” portion of the name. “Tavern” was chosen to represent the restaurant’s approachability as a space.

Here’s just a sampling of what Riesenberger and staff will have to offer: for breakfast, fresh fruit smoothies, omelets, frittatas, eggs or vegetable benedict, poached eggs, egg sandwich, sausage hash and buttermilk pancakes; lunch dishes include soup, torn kale salad, chopped beef burger, heirloom tomato salad, “Farmer Stand” salad, frisee and arugula salad, French omelet, beef carpaccio, roast chicken, fire smoked wild salmon, grilled chicken toast, “BLT” and grilled flatbread; and dinner dishes include artisanal sausage, slow-roasted eggplant, chopped beef burger, pork ribeye, “Off the Hearth” chicken, roasted sea bass, flatiron beef and fresh tagliatelle.