Restaurant reservations up 86% from last Memorial Day, OpenTable data says

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The unofficial start to summer kicked off with a welcomed win for restaurant owners across North Carolina - an increase in reservations.

Data from OpenTable reported the average numbers of reservations across North Carolina were at the same level this Memorial Day weekend as they were during Memorial Day weekend in 2019.

The increase brings hope for many restaurants who were closed this time last year. Reservations were down an average of 86% last Memorial Day weekend compared to 2019.

However, the data shows not all areas of the state have completely bounced back. OpenTable data reported reservations for restaurants in the Raleigh area were still down an average 17% this past weekend compared to 2019.

The data reflecting the hesitancy many residents still feel about returning to indoor dining.

FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

"I haven't been indoors yet," said Durham resident Donna Frederick. "I think some of the misinformation or vaccines and masks have been a little bit fluctuating so I'm going to continue to wear a mask and eat outdoors because I do want to support the venues."

This weekend's reservation levels around the Triangle still slightly higher than past weekends, which leaves restaurant owners hopeful.

"We're super enthusiastic. We hear a bunch of businesses are coming back or starting to come back tomorrow. Some have been trickling after the governor lifted all the restrictions, so we have definitely noticed a big increase the last few weeks," said Elizabeth Blunt, one of the managers at Farmside Kitchen.

Farmside Kitchen is a brand new restaurant in the RTP area that focuses on fresh and locally-sourced plates.

Blunt said their customers have drastically increased the last few weeks and are hopeful as the summer continues people start feel more comfortable returning.

"We're positive that people are going to be looking to get out after everything gets better and it's starting to get better and people are; they're looking to go out, they are looking to be normal," Blunt said. "Every week has been better than the last but the last few weeks have been dramatically better."

Durham residents Darah Whyt and her son Jonah already starting to head back to their favorite spots.

"It's a newer thing for us. We've definitely only been doing takeout up until this spring. Once we got fully vaccinated we felt much more comfortable loosening up a little bit. Obviously, our son is not vaccinated yet so we are still making sure we are taking care of him and being super cautious," Whyt said.

OpenTable data showed the best day for restaurants was Sunday with reservations in North Carolina up 13% from 2019.
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