‘Reservations are down a lot:’ New Brunswick restaurants see much smaller Valentine’s Day crowds

Restaurant owners in New Brunswick say while business is up this Valentine’s Day, it’s still not like how it used to be before the pandemic.
Keneal Petgrave, the manager of Salt Seafood & Oyster Bar in New Brunswick, says Valentine's Day is living up to its reputation as one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants.
"Today we have to really make sure we go above and beyond and knock it out of the park," he says. "Our phones are going nonstop…everyone wants to go out and have a great time."
However, the state has still limit indoor dining at 35% capacity.
Petgrave says they've expanded outdoor seating, but reservations are still down compared to previous years.
At Tavern on George, dining is done outside in a tent providing extra space to meet the usual Valentine's Day demand.
Still, owner Doug Schneider says he isn't witnessing the same rush of patrons this holiday.
"Reservations are down a lot and it's because a lot of people are still choosing to stay home, and so our to-go order orders are up, and people are definitely choosing to hunker down still," he says.
As reservations in some cases are down by 75%, restaurant owners and managers look to the future with hope.
"We are in for the long haul and it's not a sprint it's a marathon for us,” Petgrave says. “We are doing everything we can to make sure we are here for many more years."
Schneider adds, "We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are almost there, but for now, holidays like Valentine's Day, we are just going to see a lot less people."