Bert Berard just reopened his diner, Bert's Breakfast and Lunch, after closing for five weeks and customers are slowly coming back.
Berard is following safety guidelines, but he hopes Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker realizes that when it comes to restrictions during the pandemic, it's not one size fits all.
“The glass will be 3 feet high and the booths 5 feet," Berard said, standing in his half empty Uxbridge diner trying to cook up a safe way to serve his customers. But he’s still waiting on the recipe.
“All the little towns are having a hard time trying to make decisions on what we can do. When it goes up to the state it takes a long time," Berard said.
His 50-seat diner sits on a large lot off of Route 146A.
“All of my employees -- I have 13 of them -- they were afraid to work," Berard said. He and his daughter, Emily Berard, now cook and serve takeout orders.
"If we could at least get the outdoor seating going, that would be great," Emily Berard said. "It’s not like we’re in downtown Boston.”
Neighboring Rhode Island and New Hampshire will allow outdoor seating starting Monday. Bert and Emily are hoping to move some tables outside, since social distancing in the tiny diner eliminates more than half of their seats.
Baker has offered few details on the state's reopening process since he released his four-phased plan to restart the Massachusetts economy, saying he wants to wait until a report from his Reopening Advisory Board is released Monday.
He has said he hopes to begin the first phase on Monday, May 18. He didn't specify which businesses would be involved, other than to say that they will be the most successful at not spreading the virus and don't require a lot of direct contact with customers.
Meanwhile, Bert's Breakfast and Lunch regulars are improvising.
Customer Norm Tremblay said his wife is happy she doesn’t have to cook for him anymore.
“After a few days she started to complain," Tremblay said. "She says, ‘When’s Bert gonna reopen?’”
The restaurant, adapting to the times, used to accept cash only.
“After 17 years, I’m going to be accepting credit cards," Bert Berard said.
Now, they’re hoping Massachusetts can adapt its guidance to allow them to make a living.
"People are ready to get out. I’m seeing it just in this little town," Berard said. "They want to get out, they want to get back to their routine.”
Each day during the pandemic, Berard has made about 10 percent of his typical revenue, he said. He has an outdoor seating area ready to go, he’s just waiting on the governor’s word, and he hopes that comes Monday.