LAWRENCE — Just two days before St. Patrick's Day, Claddagh owner Brian Farrell was forced to shut down due to COVID-19 pandemic. 

"That's my single biggest day of the year," said Farrell, owner of the Irish restaurant and pub at 399 Canal St. 

On Monday, the Claddagh, along with other Lawrence restaurants, re-opened for outdoor dining only.

While happy to have customers back, Farrell noted Lawrence eateries were allowed to resume business a week after other Massachusetts cities and towns and four weeks after restaurants re-opened a short drive away in southern New Hampshire. 

Farrell bought rain barrels to section off the patio and outdoor dining area at the Claddagh. The city later told him they wanted to use concrete barriers. And gearing up for re-opening, Farrell stocked up on bottled beer only to be told drinks needed to be in disposable cups, he said.

He admitted he's nervous about the business and re-opening at what's generally a slower time of the year. Locals often head to the beaches or New Hampshire for vacations.  

"It's been a challenge.... The city had plenty of time to figure this out. People who don't understand the restaurant business are making the decisions," Farrell said. 

Parklets, temporary concrete barriers, have been used to cordon off outdoor seating areas. The parklets already surround an outdoor dining area at Terra Luna at 205 Essex St.

Officials said they hope to see them used as at a number of businesses on South Broadway and South Union Street that applied to use their parking lots as outdoor dining areas. 

Though Massachusetts cities and towns were allowed to reopen restaurants starting June 8, Mayor Dan Rivera pushed off the openings a week, saying the city was "still one of the easiest places to catch and transmit the virus in the Commonwealth, and in an abundance of caution, to protect consumers and workers, waiting to open up businesses further, although difficult and painful, is in the best interest of public health."

Starting Wednesday at 11 a.m., requests for J. Brian's famous chicken wings and more can ordered by both outdoor diners and for takeout, said Kathie Rupkey, manager.

During the shutdown, while some restaurants stayed open for takeout service only, J. Brian's at 615 S. Union St. closed.

Over the past week, Rupkey was able to make arrangements for outdoor service, including their liquor license.

Mamajuana, at 118 S. Union Street, plans to open for outdoor dining on Thursday, said Miguel Cirineo. 

He said the restaurant was initially sidelined by the Merrimack Valley gas disaster on Sept. 13, 2018 and then dealt another blow during the pandemic. 

"It's been a hard time for us as a business, but we want to do this safe," said Cirineo, who said Mamajuana's outdoor dining area will also be lined with parklets.

The restaurant, which features international cuisine and "a little bit of everything," will be open at noon Thursday, Cirineo said. 

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill. 


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