Waterworks Food + Drink
- Matthew Thorsen ©️ Seven Days
- Waterworks Food + Drink
in Winooski stopped in-house dining and takeout service on Tuesday and will remain closed for the foreseeable future, according to owner David Abdoo. He said the 285-seat restaurant on the Winooski River will reopen for business when it's viable to do so.
Abdoo cited two primary reasons for his decision to close.
First, operating Waterworks in accordance with new state-mandated restrictions on restaurants, which include limiting diners to one household per table, is not financially viable, he said. Additionally, Abdoo is concerned about the health and safety of his 55-person staff, and the larger community, as the virus surges in Vermont.
“We have a great staff that raises the bar,” Abdoo said. “They’re my number one concern. I can't say enough about them.”
Employees cried at a Zoom meeting on Monday when Abdoo told staffers the restaurant would close, he said. He said he'll offer weekly groceries to his employees during the closure.
- Sally Pollak/File ©️ Seven Days
- David Abdoo
“People have children, people are single parents,” Abdoo said. “Let’s be real here. We talk about money, we talk about the industry. This comes down to our people. The people we have around us, and the people we work with.”
Waterworks implemented a system during the pandemic in which it added a table at each party’s table (or tables), and used that additional table as a central serving point for the party. Place settings, disposable menus and a water bottle were set before the meal. When food was served, dishes were placed on the adjacent table, which limited interaction with and proximity to the server.
“I feel very comfortable with how we operate,” Abdoo said.
But even with safety precautions in place and a large restaurant that allows for ample spacing, the current conditions don’t work for Waterworks.
“Waterworks is a celebration place,” Abdoo said. “People come and eat together.”
Customers canceled reservations when dining with non-household members was prohibited, he said. The measure went into place November 14
Abdoo is looking forward to reopening Waterworks when it makes both safety and business sense to do so.
“We care about the community,” he said. “We’re here for the long haul.”