Napa restaurants are open, but dining isn't normal

Downtown Napa is still a long way from normal. But it has begun inching in that direction.

With Napa County now entering the advanced stages of reopening under Phase Two, Grace's Table is among the first restaurants in the area to offer indoor dining. Many other eateries need time to ramp up and adapt. 

To allow for social distancing  at Grace's, there are now seven tables where once there were 17.

Napkins are disposable. Salt and pepper now come in packets. The staff works only when healthy.

"Anybody who is not well is not coming to work. DayQuil is not part of anybody's work station any more," said owner Mauro Pando with a laugh.

The easing of some restrictions seems to have brought a nice vibe to a still cautious community.

"I'm worried about getting re-infected. But I think we have to be smart," said resident Linda Boyer.

"In all, it is bringing back just a little bit of normalcy to a place that is very uncertain and still scary," said Pando.

No one in Napa expects, or can handle, the number tourists of past Memorial Day weekends.

But some day trippers have been coming here to Downtown Joe's..

"I'm finding that 50% of my customers are coming in from Concord, Walnut Creek, San Francisco, the Oakland area. Places where trey can't go out to dine," said owner Joe Peatman.

Before the pandemic, Napa County had a $2.2 billion tourism industry. How much of that can be regained? 

The wineries remain closed to the public.

The 650-room Meritage Resort and Spa now houses only about a dozen first responders and essential workers. Tourists with  reservations this summer are told to stand by, until phase three.

But at least now the looser restrictions have brought some optimism.

"it's bringing people out. Letting them have some joy in having a dining experience again," said Pando.\

Napa is also premiering a free  pop-up drive-in movie theater Friday night.. It's in a parking lot with space for 150 cars, but 900 people have asked for tickets.