Downtown Riverhead was buzzing with an energy not felt in nearly 90 days as Phase Two of reopening began Wednesday morning.
Outdoor tables have been set up at nearly every restaurant along Main Street, as outdoor dining is allowed under Phase Two.
“This is the kind of thing, when you drive by, what we’re trying to present our town to be,” said Jim Liszanckie, who owns Sunny’s Grill with his wife, Sunny. “Nothing attracts you like seeing people sitting there laughing in front of your business. This is something that could really work well for us.”
Star Confectionery owner Tony Meras enjoyed breakfast at one of his outdoor tables — a first for the century old restaurant.
Pointing out several area barber shops and salons, which are also permitted to reopen under Phase Two, Mr. Meras said he’s happy to see these downtown businesses open their doors again.
“I’m so happy that they get to work today,” he said, noting that restaurants at least have been allowed to do take-out and delivery. “One day at a time, we’re one step closer to Phase Three and Phase Four and hopefully no more phases. Just back to doing what we do.”
Around the block, Chris Angielczyk, who owns A Sharp Fella barbershop, was eager to get back to work. It’s been approximately 88 days since he last held a pair of clippers in his hands. “It’s just like riding a bike,” he said with the outline of a clear smile behind a mask and face shield required under state guidelines.
Each industry must adhere to strict guidelines that include social distancing and masks, among others. Clients at barbershops and salons must make appointments and wait in their cars.
At Gabriel Loren the Salon on Howell Avenue, appointments are filling up fast, with booking already spilling into July.
“Everyone at the salon, we’ve had financial challenges not being able to work,” said owner Raquel Dispenziere. “But we work in this industry because we really love it, so not being able to do what we love everyday has had its own challenges.”
While shut down, the stylists have offered to-go color kits and other hair care needs to their customers, she said.
One of her first clients Wednesday was Lisa Cozine of East Moriches, who said she’s needed a haircut since before the pandemic began. “I’m just happy that we’re back to somewhat normal,” Ms. Cozine said as Ms. Dispenziere added highlights to her hair. “I love the girls here, so I’m happy to see them, too. We’ve been home with the kids for three months and it just feels nice to do something for yourself.”
Next on her list, she said, is to find a nice outdoor spot to have dinner with her family.