New Hampshire

Will Outdoor Dining Be Enough to Keep Restaurants on NH's Seacoast Going?

"How do we adjust our business model to make the best of a bad situation?" one Dover restaurant owner said.

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Some restaurants on New Hampshire's seacoast are getting ready to reopen on May 18, when Gov. Chris Sununu’s modified stay-at-home order will allow outdoor dining if tables are six feet apart. 

But not all of them. The stay-at-home order in the state was extended weeks later, until May 31, which may keep people home, said Valerie Rochon, president of the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth.

“Will they come in enough numbers to make it economically viable for these restaurants?" she said. "Some of them are saying no. No, we’re going to wait.”

Some owners are waiting until late summer or early fall to open, and Rochon said their survival may depend on the size of the state's support packages.

Some restaurants that do plan to reopen in May are turning parking lots into dining areas, she said.

While the new order extends through May 31, other restrictions in New Hampshire are set to ease much sooner.

Chapel and Main in Dover has been closed since March and plans to reopen. Co-owner Benjamin Lord said they will do their best with curbside ordering and outdoor seating.

"How do we adjust our business model to make the best of a bad situation?" Lord said.

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