Penticton restaurants thrilled to reopen their dining rooms

Restaurants thrilled to open

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Theo’s Restaurant is one of Penticton’s most iconic dining rooms. The Greek restaurant on Main Street was also one of the first wave of restaurants to re-open for “safe distancing dining” on Friday, May 22.

“It was a good night,” said owner Gregory Condonopoulos on Saturday. “One of our first customers were Austin and Katie. They joined us the last night before restaurants were shut down and the first night we re-opened. We also had a couple who chose to have their 10th anniversary with us.”

With 8,000 square feet, Theo’s is one of the largest restaurants in Penticton. That extra square footage helped make sure customers could enjoy their experience with tables at least six feet apart and staff trained to provide a safe dining experience, said Gregory.

“The team has been working hard to re-organize and prepare for safe distancing dine-in. We are going the extra mile to make sure it’s done right for you and your family,” Gregory added. They had specially made distancing stickers for the front entrance.

“We have nothing on the tables and food is delivered to the tables on banquet trays for guests to pick up themselves. We have one way in and one way out. We are following all the rules while still trying to create a nice dining experience.”

Gregory opened the upstairs on Saturday and belly dancing will be back next weekend. Plans are in the works to eventually throw a re-opening party with all the fun Greek traditions including Greek dancing, plate breaking and a whole lamb cooked on a spit.

Theo’s has been in Penticton since the 1970s and has a loyal and growing following. When the restaurant closed for COVID-19, they continued to do take-out. While slow to start, Theo’s quickly became a hot spot for locals to get takeout.

“We have a sustainable takeout business now and we will hopefully maintain that. A lot of our senior customers are choosing takeout over dining in,” he said.

Gregory wanted to express his gratitude to the community for supporting Theo’s through all of this.

“Business was down 70 per cent when we closed and now with the social distancing protocols we still won’t be anywhere near back to full again but it’s still so nice to see everyone supporting us and to see diners face-to-face again. Thank you.”

The team at Cannery Brewery is also humbled by the community’s support.

“The support that we have had from the Penticton area community has been nothing short of astounding,” said Cannery Brewery owner Patt Dyck.

“To the liquor stores selling our packaged beer, to the local restaurants offering beer to go with their food, and to the people coming to the brewery, we say thank you! We are beyond grateful for the outstanding support that we have had from this incredible community.”

It's been more than 10 weeks since breweries had to shut down their tap rooms to the public.

“We quickly pivoted our business, launching an online store on our website, offering touch free, curbside pick up options, and beer to go sales. Through it all, our amazing brew crew has continued to brew beer,” said Patt.

But through it all, it’s the people they have missed the most and Patt can’t wait to see everyone again. The tap room and existing patio will reopen within the next week or two.

“We will re-open our tap room with reduced capacity, smaller groups with a maximum of six people per table, and enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols.”

In January, the city of Penticton approved a new, larger patio on the north side of the brewery.

“We are still working on plans for the new patio area. An opening date in the summer is our current hope,” said Patt. In the meantime, staff are excited to get the tap room open.

“The Cannery Brewing Dream Team can’t wait to welcome everyone back. Nachos and beer on the patio with our dear friends is what we have been longing for indeed.”

Poplar Grove Winery and restaurant is also eager to welcome guests back onto their patio overlooking Okanagan Lake.

“The focus for now is to re-open the restaurant and be able to host our guests on our beautiful patio,” said Poplar Grove food and beverage manager Michael Ziff.

Stay tuned for when the tasting room and restaurant open again.

When everyone was forced to shut down because of the pandemic, the team at Poplar Grove came together.

“We were able to pivot quickly and adapt to the situation by offering takeout food while continuing to sell wine out of the tasting room,” said Micheal.

Being able to offer something to the community felt good, he added. The take home DIY dinners were popular, he said.

“The roast dinner and BBQ packs were an instant success. They were designed to require a bit of work but easily executed for a delicious dinner,” Michael said. “People have actually expressed a wish for us to continue with takeout but our focus right now is to re-open the restaurant.”

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