Vaccinated and raring to return to life, a tsunami of seniors are dining out — and in — at restaurants throughout Sonoma County.
“I am finding a lot of excitement from our regulars who feel a sense of relief from being vaccinated,” said Sarah Piccolo of Fork restaurant in Sebastopol.
After more than a year of takeout and limited outdoor dining, the county lifted its most restrictive regulations in mid-March, allowing indoor dining at 25% capacity. That, along with a drop in COVID-19 cases and increasingly mild weather, has seniors cautiously venturing out.
“They are sitting on the patio, excited to be back in our seats! Some of them have either done takeout or just cooked since March. It feels great to have them back,” Piccolo said.
With more than 82% of the over-65 age group vaccinated in Sonoma County, according to the California Immunization Registry, and a long year of missing family, friends and favorite restaurants, elders are ready to get out.
“One thing I’m really enjoying is seeing our older generation back out again … and celebrating with family,” said Guerneville restaurateur Crista Luedtke of Boon Eat + Drink. “It makes me realize we’re on the right path.”
Even anecdotally, the senior boom in restaurant patronage has been obvious throughout the county. On a recent visit to Willi’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, we couldn’t get a reservation for the limited indoor dining, and elders were noticeably en masse at the few tables. Our server confirmed that they were seeing a trend of recently vaccinated seniors coming out to eat after a long absence. It was the same at Taub Family Outpost, where long-absent elders were enjoying brunch.
It’s a national trend, apparently. The New York Times recently reported that those 70 and older are drinking cocktails, meeting up with grandchildren and “filling restaurants” since receiving their full vaccination.
Even my own parents, who’ve been hibernating for nearly a year, are now a month past their second vaccination and cautiously eager to get back to life beyond limited grocery store visits and essential appointments. They dined outdoors at Blue Ridge Kitchen last weekend, thrilled to finally be eating with family somewhere other than at home.
Welcome back! Now if the rest of us could just get vaccinated…