More city restaurants, retailers reopen as COVID restrictions lift

There are several signs of hope throughout Center City as more restaurants and retail shops reopen after being shut down during the pandemic.

Video Transcript

- With the advent of vaccinations and maybe even the warm weather, it is hard not to think positively about the weeks and months ahead. And for small businesses in Philadelphia, they are suddenly taking steps to reawaken their own activities. Action News Community Journalist Ashley Johnson has some examples.

ASHLEY JOHNSON: It's a dramatic sign big changes in store here at Brauhaus Schmitz on 7th and South Street.

DOUG HAGER: Great news. We're finally opening up for indoor dining this weekend. You know, it's been a crazy long year.

ASHLEY JOHNSON: It was an all hands on deck effort this afternoon for the grand reopening tomorrow.

DOUG HAGER: I feel like we're trending in the right direction, and I expect that we'll be up to 50% very soon. So, you know, spring's coming. COVID's slowly going away, and it's time to get back-- get back to work.

ASHLEY JOHNSON: Workers tore down the outdoor pop-up Christmas village structure. The owner, Doug Hager, has become a master of reinventing the wheel.

DOUG HAGER: Being shut down, making zero money, was not really an option. So we did, like, a little mini Christmas village out here and served hot drinks and hand food. It helped us get through the long winter.

And Jose Garces' Tinto on 20th Street also did a big pivot. It went from being a restaurant to now a wine bar.

NATE JOHNSON: The largest benefit for us has been able to tap into a new market, I guess, if you will.

ASHLEY JOHNSON: Tinto sells exclusive bottles of wine not available at stores.

NATE JOHNSON: It's kept us alive and kept us solvent. You know, it's-- it's a challenge for all restaurants, given that the business model was set up to have people come to you. And now the restaurants have to go to those people.

ASHLEY JOHNSON: And there are so many signs of hope throughout Center City. According to the district, 76% of restaurants that were forced to shut down during the pandemic will reopen, and 35 new retail shops have opened over the past year. In Center City, Ashley Johnson, Channel Six Action News.