Phyllis McGuire: Slice of life - 1 Williamstown eatery's reopening journey

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WILLIAMSTOWN — Gov. Charlie Baker announced on June 6 that step one of phase two in the plan for reopening Massachusetts, which includes outdoor table service at restaurants, would begin June 8.

Within that week, Susan Briggs, executive director of Williamstown Chamber of Commerce, compiled a list of restaurants in Williamstown and the vicinity that are prepared to serve customers outdoors. "It is updated as soon as I get new information," Briggs said when we spoke.

At that time several restaurants were in the process of applying for a license for outdoor dining, according to Deborah Turnbull, assistant to Willliamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch.

Olympic Pizza & Family Restaurant at 460 Main St. in Williamstown was ready and able to offer outdoor dining on June 8.

"We began preparing in April," said Stella Giannaris who together with her husband Dimitris Sfakianakis owns and operates Olympic Pizza. "I got a permit and we bought tables, chairs, umbrellas and personal protection equipment."

The couple took ownership of the restaurant, formerly known as Michael's Restaurant and Pizzeria, in 2011 and have made extensive renovations since then

And with Giannaris as hostess and Sfakianakis as chef, Olympic Pizza has received excellent reviews.

"We get lots of return customers," said Giannaris. "We are in a good location. And Williamstown attracts people from all over the world."

Giannaris comes from a family of restaurateurs, but she is the first to offer outdoor dining. "My husband and I have been wanting to do it for some time," she said.

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And now that their wish has become a reality. Giannaris said, "People have been very supportive, and the regulars say, 'We are so happy you are back.'"

Fortunately, unlike some restaurants, there is a spacious open area in front of Olympic Pizza for outdoor dining. "We have eight tables for now," Giannaris said.

Adhering to guidelines, the tables are seven feet apart. "We sanitize everything after every use," Giannaris said.

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Servers wear masks and gloves, and customers must wear masks when they arrive, but can remove them when sitting at a table. No more than six people can be seated at a table.

Other precautions taken to prevent the possible spread of the corona virus include: customers can order from a single use menu or the menu on the Olympic Pizza website; condiments are supplied in single serve disposable packets.

"Customers can use disposable utensils or our regular utensils," Giannaris said. "Most people prefer our regular utensils."

Olympic Pizza's outdoor dining hours are 3 to 9 p.m.

On June 11, David Shufelt and his wife, Loretta Shufelt, of Milltown, N.Y., got together at Olympic Pizza with their son David, who is staying in Williamstown.

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"I normally do not go to outdoor restaurants, but we had no choice," David Sr. said, referring to the ban on restaurants serving customers indoors, in effect at the time.

"Olympic Pizza was the right place to go. It was very pleasurable. There was a friendly atmosphere and the waitress excelled."

Sitting at a table in the shade of a "supersize" off white umbrella, the Shufelts relaxed and enjoyed pizza. "We each had a different kind," said David Sr.

At Olympic Pizza, there are more than 20 different types of pizzas to choose from in addition to Greek and Italian specialties and delectable desert. And if you have a yen for a grinder or a hamburger and french fries, you will not be disappointed.

On June 20, Gov. Baker announced that step two of phase two would begin on June 22, at which time restaurants could reopen for indoor dining with safety standards expected to be observed.

The owners of Olympic Pizza are glad to be able again serve customers in their restaurant, as well as outdoors. And they are looking forward to offering outdoor dining every year.

"We strongly believe that people enjoy being outdoors in the summer," Giannaris said.

Phyllis McGuire writes from her home in Williamstown. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.


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