Pandemic Dining: Restaurants Taking on COVID-19


Restaurants using blocked off streets and heaters to create outdoor seating areas.

Mitra Moody, PaperClip Writer

COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on Portsmouth restaurants since the pandemic began last March. Business remains down because people do not want to risk exposure for non-essential behavior, including eating meals out. However, many restaurants have taken steps to drive business but in as safe a manner as possible.  

When the State restricted indoor dining, many restaurants opened up new outdoor seating to comply with the law as well as to encourage customers to return. Jake Posternak, Lead Manager of the Roundabout Diner states, “Numbers are down because the fear of going out but takeout is good and we have outside seating.” Over the summer, the Roundabout set up two large tents to provide outdoor seating. Tables were set at least six feet apart to create a safer environment for customers.  

Winter is bringing new challenges to Portsmouth restaurants as temperatures dip. In response, some restaurants have added outside heaters to stretch out the season as long as possible. Others have expanded marketing efforts to increase their take-out business. 

Roundabout’s Posternak explained that they are using approaches such as curbside pickup and planning special dinners such as a take-out Thanksgiving dinner. Posternak hopes that, especially since family gatherings may be smaller this year, many will take advantage of their Thanksgiving meal option.  

Inside, restaurants are taking other precautions such as adding plexiglass dividers, separating tables, and blocking off every other table or booth to allow for better distancing. At the Roundabout, Posternak indicated that they are requiring all employees and customers to wear masks. They offer masks at the front door and require employees to take temperatures before beginning a shift. If contact tracing becomes necessary, each customer must provide a name and phone number so they can be contacted if an outbreak were to occur.  

Despite the best efforts, several long-time Portsmouth restaurants have struggled and shut down during the pandemic. Some closures, including Flatbreads, Rosa, and Martingale Wharf, were temporary due to possible COVID exposures. Others, such as The Green Elephant and Gilly’s have reduced hours and limited menu options. Still others such as Lure and Agave have closed permanently.  

With the pandemic still going on, restaurants are going to continue to face challenges to stay alive, especially with winter approaching. By following rules and regulations, as well as showing our support, we can help our local businesses survive.