Downtown Restaurant Week: Some businesses find footing, sense of normalcy amid Covid vaccine mandate

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – On a slightly less chilly evening in the heart of Philadelphia, friends and couples were seen taking part in Downtown Restaurant Week.

Some restaurants finally saw some traffic on Wednesday evening after a wet and cold start to the week.

“It didn’t help much for the outdoor seating, although everything was heated,” said Little Nonna general manager Jack Pearo.

At Little Nonna, fairy lights and heat lamps kept people warm in the yard. The main dining room was also buzzing with the chatter of satisfied and bubbly patrons.

SEE ALSO: What You Need To Know About Philadelphia Vaccines Inside Catering Requirements

So far, the city’s recent vaccination proof mandate has not diminished turnout.

“I think it all comes down to your comfort level, what you think is best for you,” client Joanna Booth said.

“We really had no problem with anyone giving us a hard time. I think they know it’s not our fault, it’s just the mandate,” Pearo said.

This tenure, in part, is why a couple decided to dine at Cuba Libre in Old Town.

“They check us at the gate, that way we can come in here and breathe,” customer Ilsa Spurill explained.

However, Spurill was left breathless during a surprise marriage proposal the same night.

“I said yes!” she exclaimed in a room that burst into applause.

The festive atmosphere added to a sense of normalcy almost lost in the pandemic era.

“We have to survive here,” said Cuba Libre manager Gerald DeVose.

While industry executives realize that not everyone may agree with the policy or the mandates, the reality is that there really is no other alternative.

“It’s kind of a pain in the back, but it’s a necessary evil to get us through. And hopefully by summer this thing will crumble and be back to some kind of normalcy,” DeVose said.

As a reminder, if you choose not to disclose your vaccination status, you can still dine out.

Downtown Restaurant Week lasts until January 21.

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