ASBURY PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – When New Jersey enters Stage 2 reopening on Monday, indoor dining will still not be allowed.
But, CBS2’s Nick Caloway reports one city on the Jersey Shore is defying Gov. Phil Murphy’s orders.
On a gloomy Thursday on the Jersey Shore, there’s a silver lining for restaurant owners in Asbury Park.
The city council and mayor agreed to allow restaurants to open for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity.
“Any more customers I can serve is phenomenal news,” said James Avery, owner of The Bonney Read restaurant.
It was welcomed news for business owners crushed by the coronavirus pandemic and struggling to get by on just take-out and delivery orders.
“If we can open at 25 percent, that’s going to give us about 50 seats inside that we don’t have right now,” said Amy Russo, who owns Toast City Diner, a breakfast and brunch spot on popular Cookman Avenue.
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Russo said her business is down more than 70 percent.
“At some point we have to get back to business,” she said.
Down the street, Scott Mizrahi at Lola’s Cafe said it’s too late to salvage the summer – the losses are too great.
He said allowing customers inside again will help.
“It’s just time already that we start earning some money,” said Mizrahi.
But, there’s a catch.
Asbury Park is allowing indoor dining, which technically defies Gov. Murphy’s executive order limiting what certain businesses can do.
“There’s no playbook for this,” said Sylvia Sylvia, executive director of the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce.
Sylvia said crowds of 50 people can legally gather indoors, so why not include restaurants which are on the verge on collapse?
“We need to survive 2020, so that we can thrive 2021,” said Sylvia.
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On Thursday, Murphy said enforcement would be stepped up if businesses defy his order.
“So the actions of the Asbury Park governing body, a great community in the state, bless their hearts. Their actions are inconsistent with my executive order. We cannot have one set of rules for one town and another for another town,” Murphy said at his daily briefing. “We move as one state, guided by science and data. Period.”
Not all restaurant owners in Asbury Park are planning to open for indoor dining on Monday.
One manager told CBS2 they plan to wait until the governor gives the green light because it’s not worth risking their liquor license.
Others say they have no choice but to give it a go.