WESTERLY — Enough is enough. After enduring the verbal tirades of customers irritated by on-site dining restrictions imposed by the state to slow the spread of COVID-19, the owners of a Misquamicut restaurant have decided to limit their business to takeout for the foreseeable future.
"The vast majority of our customers were understanding and sympathetic and very gracious and grateful; however, a minority of customers did not appreciate being told 'no' and became irate," said Tim Brennan, one of the owners of Two Little Fish on Atlantic Avenue.
Brennan and his wife and their other family members who own the popular seasonal restaurant decided Thursday to return to takeout only after they and their staff, including several teenagers, were subjected to the invective and cursing of customers who were angered by mask wearing and social distancing requirements.
"No business likes to say no to a customer, but I'm not sure if they understood. We're just the messenger. We didn't invent the rules, but if I violate them, I lose my license or we face a fine," Brennan said.
Because of the small size of the indoor portion of the restaurant and its small deck, Brennan said only a few tables could be used to comply with a rule that all tables be at least 8 feet from each other. Additionally, a 6-foot passage area for employees is required.
Some customers also chaffed at a restriction on approaching the restaurant's counter and on the maximum number of people allowed inside, Brennan said.
When the restaurant opened for the season in April, it was limited to takeout only. When the state's phased reopening progressed, Brennan said he added on-site dining as "an amenity for our customers" even though it meant having to hire extra staff to take reservations and handle cleaning duties. The dine-in option was initially limited to weekends and expanded to seven days per week about three weeks ago.
On Friday, Brennan stressed that he was not troubled by the state restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.
"I think the restrictions are in place for a good reason and I'm happy to follow them," he said.
Brennan announced his decision to switch back to takeout only on Facebook Thursday night. By Friday afternoon the post had generated more than 200 responses. Brennan said he was surprised by the number of responses and attention his decision has received.
"Most of the posts are supportive," he noted.