WATERVILLE — Jesse Philbrick and John Picurro refused to let tales of woe prevent them from generating revenue during the coronavirus pandemic, so they dreamed up ways to keep their restaurant open by doing takeout and supplementing the business with a food truck.

Their restaurant, The Last Unicorn, reopened Monday, two months after it closed because of the pandemic and a week after they opened The Gouda Boys food truck at the city’s playground on North Street, where they serve macaroni ‘n’ cheese-related items, burgers, fries and other fare.

“It’s pretty exciting and we’re doing pretty well,” Philbrick said Monday. “We’ve done zero advertising and we’re getting a lot of referrals, a lot of people coming in.”

The Last Unicorn on Silver Street is one of several area restaurants that reopened Monday to in-house patrons and is planning to practice health and safety guidelines set forth by the state Center for Disease Control & Prevention.

The practices include keeping tables at least 6 feet apart, sanitizing between seatings, offering one-time-use condiment and salt and pepper packages and seating only up to eight people at a table.

The Last Unicorn set tables and chairs on its Silver Street patio for outdoor dining and was ready for customers Monday.

“We are not going to be seating the full space and have reduced the number of tables in the dining room,” Philbrick said. “We’ve always been very, very careful about sanitizing and things like that, so there’s an additional layer of protection we want to provide and make people feel safe and comfortable.”

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the food truck 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“I’m real happy to be reopening right now, even though it’s limited seating,” Philbrick said. “It’s going to be really great to see all our customers again. They’re the backbone of our business. We did takeout, curbside every day. It’s been enough to pay the bills, but there hasn’t been any gravy on the mashed potatoes.”

OPA, a Greek restaurant on Main Street, also reopened Monday. Its hours are noon to 8 p.m. every day, and will be changed as needed.

“We are excited to see our patrons,” owner Sotirios Gudis said. “We have a pretty loyal customer base here. It’s more than just relationships as customers …”

Like The Last Unicorn, OPA also offered takeout food over the past several weeks and will continue to do both in-house dining and takeout, according to Gudis.

“The first couple of weeks were quiet,” he said. “It’s a different atmosphere. It’s a big change. People like to dine in with their families and friends. It’s an event that people do on the weekends. After the second and third week of takeout, it started picking up. I’m really thankful for those people.”

Cancun, a Mexican restaurant, bar and grill on Silver Street, opened Monday and will keep its regular business hours — 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. — but will not be open later in the evening for its nightclub, according to employee Elizabeth Michaud.

“We’ve had to space the tables,” Michaud said, adding customers for now cannot sit at the bar. “The tables are spaced at 6 feet apart.”

While Cancun set up tables and chairs in its outdoor dining area, the restaurant was not planning to use that area Monday, she said.

Other eateries planned to open Wednesday to allow more time to prepare.

Portland Pie Co. owner Patrick Mulligan said Monday the restaurant will be ready Wednesday.

“We had an employee meeting on Sunday morning. We went through the governor’s guidelines and realized some things we really needed to firm up, like a bit better signage, disposable menus,” Mulligan said. “We made the executive decision to go on Wednesday, and also we were waiting for a little bit more of the help to come back.”

Mulligan said the restaurant was fortunate to keep most of its kitchen staff while it was closed to in-house dining. It has offered only pickup and curbside service over the past several weeks.

“It’s been going OK,” he said. “We’re not setting the world on fire, but we’re not going as backward as a lot of people. Those are the ones I worry about. It’s kept us moving, and I think because of it we’ll be better prepared on Wednesday.”

Employees will wear masks, Mulligan said, and a shield was installed at the bar to separate employees from patrons. The restaurant’s hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Silver Street Tavern & Restaurant on Silver Street will reopen Wednesday with a fresh look inside, according to owner Charlie Giguere.

“It’s all been shined up and painted,” Giguere said. “We’ve done a lot. We’re looking forward to it. The inside looks beautiful. The whole room has been painted, we’ve got new drapes, we sanded the floors. It looks prettier than when I opened up 10 years ago.”

The indoor dining area will seat 50 instead of the usual 110 to 115, according to Giguere, who said bar service will not be allowed. The patio outside will reopen Friday to allow the staff time to make sure everything is done right in the dining room, Giguere said.

Jesse Philbrick, co-owner of Gouda Boys, writes on a menu board at the food truck that was open for business at the North Street Recreation Area in Waterville Monday. Philbrick, a co-owner of the Last Unicorn in downtown Waterville, and his partner kept their business afloat with revenus from the truck. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

“I’d love to open up Thursday because it’s going to be beautiful weather,” he said, “but I don’t want to stub my toe and let it hurt us.”

The restaurant’s temporary hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with happy hour from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. — instead of the usual 5:30 p.m.

“This week, we’re not taking reservations,” Giguere said. “Next week, we may or may not, depending on our experience this week.”

Selah Tea on Main Street opened Monday after offering curbside and takeout service the past two months, seven days a week, according to owner Bobby McGee.

“It went OK. It wasn’t crowded like we’re used to,” McGee said at 4:15 p.m., about 45 minutes before closing time.

McGee said Monday’s business was about double what it has been the past two months, but still down about two-thirds from what it was before Selah Tea closed in mid-March. Hours will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

“People are very, very happy and grateful that we’re open and they have a place to go,” McGee said. “For us, it went really well.”

Like Giguere, McGee said he has made many changes — “cleaning, refreshing and remodeling” — inside the eatery while it was closed to in-house dining,

“The whole barista area is all brand new. We put a brand new counter in,” McGee said. “I have this really cool butcher block and we have all the counters for baristas. We have an espresso station, a smoothie station and a tea station. It’s completely different. We built a condiment bar.”

McGee said he utilized the time the eatery was closed to make improvements — with an optimistic eye toward the future.

“We could have either held onto everything and operated on fear or hope and faith,” he said, “and we decided to operate on hope and see the glass as half full.”

Employees wore masks while serving food Monday and tables were 6 feet apart, causing the restaurant to lose about half its seating, according to McGee. Plexiglass was installed at the ordering counter and all plates, drink containers and utensils are biodegradable, making it easier for staff and safer for customers.

“We are doing everything we can to keep things as safe as possible for folks,” McGee said, adding his employees are wearing masks and careful about sanitizing tables.

Valerie Craig of Waterville sips a cold glass of Prosecco while dining in for lunch at the Last Unicorn restaurant in downtown Waterville Monday. Craig, who read a book while eating a salad with fries, said she’s been coming to the restaurant for about 40 years. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Mary Carpinito, owner of Amici’s Cucina on Main Street, also said she plans to open Wednesday. Instead of removing tables from the dining room, however, she plans to set some tables and not others. And in accordance with CDC guidelines, no more than eight people will be seated at a table.

“We’re going to make it work,” Carpinito said. “I already have reservations — five for Wednesday. We’re very fortunate. We have such loyal customers. We have people coming in every single day for curbside pickup. It’s been really, really heartwarming.”

During the time the restaurant has offered curbside service, which will continue, it gave a percentage of the proceeds to the Alfond Youth Center to help feed children, according to Carpinito.

The hours for Amici’s Cucina will be 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Unlike some other restaurants, Joseph’s Fireside Steakhouse on West River Road has decided not to reopen for now, according to Kevin Joseph, who owns the business with E.J. Fabian.

“We wouldn’t be able to make enough money,” Joseph said Monday. “We’d lose money if we are able to seat only 50 people — that’s the biggest reason behind it. We’ve been hashing it over, E.J. and I, and we decided to wait until we can at least seat upwards of 70 people.”

Joseph and Fabian decided not to offer takeout service when the restaurant closed. Joseph said they gave most of the restaurant’s perishable food to the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, and bought food from a vendor — including hamburger, chicken and cold cuts — to give to employees so they could make meals at home.

“They were so thankful,” Joseph said, “because a lot of them didn’t get their unemployment checks for weeks.”

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