How popular Italian restaurant is preparing to reopen its doors: 'For the time being, life has changed'

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Vito Ciaraolo is the first to admit he isn’t sure what to expect on July 4.

As Vito’s Italian Restaurant prepares to reopen its doors in Walkley, its owner reveals there is an air of uncertainty as to how his customers will approach the changes that have had to take place.

“There’s been very little guidance from the government on exactly how things should work in restaurants and pubs, and so many of us are left figuring it out for ourselves,” says Vito.

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“We’re obviously sanitising everything, as well as checking temperatures on arrival, and all of my staff will be wearing masks.

Vito Ciaraolo, of Vito's Italian RestaurantVito Ciaraolo, of Vito's Italian Restaurant
Vito Ciaraolo, of Vito's Italian Restaurant

“We’re taking about half of the tables and chairs out, and instead of two seatings of up to 50 customers, we’ll have two seatings of up to 20, so less than half occupancy, to ensure people are spaced out safely.”

In addition to these standard safety measures, Vito and his team are also asking customers to refer to an online menu on their smartphones – so they don’t have to handle communal menus – and to place their orders online from their tables, which the kitchen will then prepare.

“We will have some disposable menus where this isn’t possible,” Vito says.

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“We’re also only allowing one party at a time to have drinks, while they wait for their table, in the bar.

“We’re asking people not to arrive early for their tables as, if somebody is already in the bar, you’ll have to wait outside – it’s first come, first served.”

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Vito says these new ways of working will be more time-consuming, and strange to adapt to, but that the safety of his staff and customers is his priority.

“I honestly don’t know how it’s going to go until July 4 actually comes around,” he says.

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“Are we going to see scenes like the people flocking to the beaches, people rushing to restaurants and pubs, with little regard for the need to be careful, or will people be responsible?

“I hope my customers will understand the need to go steadily and carefully. I certainly won’t be packing people in like sardines.

“If we can get 35 to 40 per cent of our former occupancy, I’m happy with that; I’m not greedy.

“We all have to accept that, for now, we can’t work like we did before.

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“For the time being, life has changed, and I think things are going to be this way for a while.”

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