SAN FRANCISCO - Regular customers of Tommy's Joynt, the colorful hofbrau on San Francisco's Van Ness Avenue, lined up Thursday, long before the 73-year-old iconic restaurant opened its doors for the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown some eight months ago.
"It's like the last San Francisco spot. Real spot," said one customer.
One couple came from Modesto to be first. "It's the first stop when we come to the city every time," said Debbie Stevens.
But this time there are new rules.
"Make sure your mask is on. Otherwise, the waiter won't come to you," manager Eddie Martin told customers. "It felt like Thanksgiving again. Thanksgiving people wait two hours in line. It felt like that today."
Management says reopening Tommy's during the pandemic, at 25 percent capacity, is an iffy proposition.
Rumors circulated online in September that it was closing for good. That was never true, says the manager.
Unlike many other restaurants, offering food to go wouldn't work here.
But it decided to re-open now for one big reason.
This month will be a test.
Tommy's has a big space, big enough to spread out tables for a limit of 43 people at one time.
The question is how many will feel comfortable enough to dine indoors.
"If we don't have the people I don't know how much it will last after Thanksgiving," said Martin.
But for now, at least, Tommy's Joynt, where the buffalo stew roams, is back.
"We are very happy," said the couple from Modesto, as they clinked their martini glasses from their table inside Tommy's Joynt.