E’ville restaurants, bars modify operations with COVID-19 restrictions

Guests of The Banq Cocktails & Lounge and Dina’s restaurant enjoy a warm summer night eating out in Ellicottville.

ELLICOTTVILLE — Most Ellicottville restaurants and bars have taken advantage of the warm summer weather to further accommodate their patrons while following mandatory COVID-19 guidelines set by New York state.

Dina’s restaurant at 15 Washington St. is doing well largely due to the many dining options it offers to its patrons. Owner Dina Dipasquale said they are at the required 50% capacity and with such a large restaurant, they have plenty of room for the required 6-foot social distancing.

“Customers have been very happy to come back,” she said. “We are very fortunate to have many spacing options. We have three private rooms that can host small family or friends’ dinners, as well as two large dining rooms. We were able to space tables more than 6 feet apart in our dining room and our high back booths are a perfect barrier.

“People always love to eat outside in the summer months as our season is short,” she added. “As fall and winter arrive, our spacing will be attractive to diners.”

Dipasquale said none of her staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus. She said her employees have been trained on mask wearing and temperature checks. They are taking extra precautions with deep cleaning and social distancing.

Dina’s is open seven days a week starting with breakfast at 7 a.m. Reservations are being taken for dinner on their website, dinas.com. To find out more, call 699-5330.

RAFI’S PLATTER by Amber arrived on Ellicottville’s restaurant scene in mid-March, just before the pandemic. Amber Rafi-Sultan and her husband, Aamir Sultan, branched out and added the second location at 32 Washington St. to their present restaurant business, Rafi’s Platter in Olean.

Spokesperson Samantha Corson said they have definitely stepped-up and done everything required by New York state law, just as other businesses have done. They put plexiglass between all the booths and sanitize regularly. She said they can have only 50% capacity, which they have not reached yet because business has been rather slow.

“We are missing our Canadian customers who haven’t been able to come in lately. That’s where a lot of our business comes from,” she said. “We are trying to make the best of it with our Ellicottville locals.”

Corson said they have put out a limited menu with reduced prices to better cater to the local people. She said their dinners usually run $30 a dinner but, instead, they decided to make a menu where most items are $13 or less.

Current business hours are Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. For more information, call 699-1018.

FINNERTY’S TAP Room has been open on and off throughout the pandemic doing takeout at first, then patio service. Now their capacity is 83, which owner Bill Finnerty said is half of their normal.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 found the business in July. Finnerty said one of his staff members woke up not feeling great on July 26. As luck would have it, one of his best friends is an emergency room doctor in Florida, and they immediately had him do a consult with Dr. Riga.

“Our staff member had a fever and lost his sense of taste and smell,” he said. “Because we were prepared for such a situation, we notified our local contact with the health department to inform them of the situation and had that person tested immediately.”

While waiting for the test results, they decided to immediately close and took action. Finnerty said they began monitoring other staff members, completely sanitized the restaurant and started the quarantine clock just in case they had a positive.

“When the results came back positive on Thursday, the Cattaraugus County Health Department contacted each of our staff members to develop a plan to either quarantine or get tested,” he said. “Half our staff who were in close contact with the individual got tested. The others were told to watch their symptoms. Because we started the clock earlier, they were less exposed and were not required to have a test. Wonderfully, all tests came back negative.”

According to Finnerty, the individual who tested positive was contacted by the health department via FaceTime twice a day to get a temperature and wellness check. He said his establishment stayed closed through Aug. 7 as they waited for all the results and for that individual to be released from quarantine.

Finnerty said he was given clearance to reopen on Aug. 2, but they decided to wait until the end of the week to make sure the staff and leadership felt comfortable with opening back up. Because they followed all the state mandated guidelines and had the space, everything was contained and handled appropriately. He said each staff member does a temperature check and a general wellness check before every shift starts.

“We tackled this situation head on and were extremely careful, because our staff is like family to us and they have other families at home. That was our number one, two and three priority — the health and well-being of the people who choose to work for us,” he said. “We feel we did everything and can confidently move forward to, hopefully, better times ahead.”

Finnerty’s Tap Room, located at 5 E. Washington St., is now open five days a week.

Business hours are Friday, 4 to 11 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.; Monday 4 to 11 p.m.; and Tuesday, 4 to 11 p.m. They are closed Wednesday and Thursday. To find out more, call 699-1226 or go online to finnertystaproom.com.