Saratogians who are going a little quarantine crazy received some good news this week, at least in terms of getting a reprieve from their cooking and dishwashing responsibilities. In the wake of Governor Cuomo announcing just days ago a 12-step reopening plan for New York State, there are some signs of “normalcy” starting to return to the Spa City. This week, three of Saratoga’s most popular, main-strip restaurants—Cantina, Druthers and Seneca—all reopened their kitchens to takeout and delivery.
“It’s been great to see life back in the restaurant,” says Jeff Ames, owner of Cantina and 408, an events space just above the Mexican-themed eatery. “Restaurant buildings are quite organic. They want people and festivity and laughter and the sound of plates and china and glassware—that’s what they’re built for.”
Closed since March 15 because of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s been quite the adjustment for Cantina to open up again, retooling its menu and kitchen toward more to-go offerings, which, Ames says, the restaurant was never really geared for. “During the busy season, it took everything within our power to serve those who just dined in,” he says. While takeout rarely generates as much income as the dine-in crowds do, Ames says that he has to “prime the pump” as much as possible in anticipation of Governor Cuomo allowing restaurants and bars to fully reopen.
Cantina’s owner isn’t alone in this kind of thinking. On April 29, Seneca and Druthers made similar decisions, both reopening their takeout menus for evening service. Druthers received so many orders that its ordering system crashed. The brewpub even posted about it on social media:
Ames is aware of some of the pitfalls of reopening and says that he and his staff are just beginning the process of getting people back in the restaurant, which officially opened for takeout today, May 1. Although cautious, he says it’s a hopeful sign. “It’s fun to start cooking again,” he says. “It’s still such an uncertain time, but it’s fun interacting with our customers, who we love, and seeing the faces of employees who we haven’t seen in weeks.”