Peninsula small business owners grateful to reopen

On Monday night, just hours after the governor lifted the Bay Area stay-at-home order, some restaurants were already welcoming back customers for the first time in nearly two months.

The governor's decision means that all Bay Area counties are now in the purple tier.

It clears the way for restaurants and many businesses to once again serve customers on site.

In Palo Alto, The Patio was open for sit-down service until midnight.

"Thank you for coming back and blessing us," owner Meghan Kawkab said to patrons who came for a sit-down meal.

She says she was one month away from having to close her business for good until she heard the news, "I got butterflies in my stomach. I almost wanted to cry."

The owner says she had an inkling restaurants would be allowed to re-opened sometime this week so she was ready with stock and staff to welcome patrons.

"I live all alone here. For me, it's important to socialize,  be outside,  meet my friends. I don't have any family here," says Pritish Yuvraj of Menlo Park who was enjoying drinks with friends at The Patio.    

In San Mateo, Nick the Greek restaurant set up for outdoor dining right away. 

Owner George Petroustas says he's been in the food service industry for 36 years.

He says take out only is not fully satisfying for him, the staff or the patrons.

"The one on one communication with our clientele.

They come in as customers and they leave as friends," says Petroustas.

Also in San Mateo, the phone has been ringing constantly  at Bella Nails.

Owner Vivian Nguyen says her appointment calendar is filling up fast. 

She had the salon cleaned and sanitized. 

Nguyen says only every other chair in the salon will be filled with a client to ensure social distancing.

"I'm very hopeful with the vaccine being that we're going to be able to stay open and this is the third shutdown, " says Nguyen.  

Back at The Patio, the owner says she plans to bring back all 52 employees.

"I can just thank our community for coming out and keeping us going, with to-go. I really appreciate it," says Kawkab.

The owner says now, she'll be getting ready for Super Bowl Sunday, one of the busiest days of the year, and Valentine's Day. 

Kawkab and other business owners hope there will be no more shutdowns because they don't they'll survive another one.