Pok-A-Dot working on reopening plans

Mark Gutman/Daily NewsThe Pok-A-Dot’s opening date is not known right now, but the popular eating spot will be open at some point, co-owner Phyllis Beers said.

BATAVIA — The Pok-A-Dot restaurant on Ellicott Street has attracted its share of loyal customers over its 68-year history.

Despite the restaurant being closed the last three months due to COVID-19, those customers will once again be able to sit at the counter and have a beef on ‘weck or whatever else the menu offers.

The Pok-A-Dot, 229 Ellicott St., which Phyllis Beers co-owns with her mother, Leona Pastore, will be open for business at some point, Beers said today. The Pok-A-Dot has been in the family since her father, Phil Pastore, opened it in 1953.

“We definitely are reopening. We don’t have a date,” Beers said.

Phase 3, which allowed restaurants and personal care businesses in the Finger Lakes to reopen June 12 carried several guidelines, including:

■ Limiting indoor capacity to no more than 50 percent of maximum occupancy, excluding employees;

■ Separating indoor and outdoor tables by a minimum of 6 feet. When that’s not feasible, they must put up physical barriers between tables. Barriers must be at least 5 feet high and not block emergency and/or fire exits;

■ Requiring patrons to wear face coverings at all times, except while seated, provided that they are over 2 years old and can medically tolerate the covering;

■ Requiring employees to wear face coverings all the time regardless of physical distance;

■ Requiring people seated at the same table to be members of the same party. They may be from different households)\, with a maximum of 10 people per table. Seating in bar areas and communal tables is only permitted if at least 6 feet can be maintained between parties

Beers said the family is dealing with some unanswered questions. She said the social distancing requirements put Poke-A-Dot in a tough spot, but added, “We’ve been open for so long, we don’t want to close. We may wait until Phase 4 ... We plan on opening as soon as possible. We just want to do it right and make sure that when we open, we’re open. It’s been quite a staple on that corner (Ellicott and Liberty streets).”

The mid-March mandatory closing of restaurants and bars to indoor dining and beverage service was the first time Pok-A-Dot had to close, Beers said. There is seating for about 40 people and people also come in to wait for to-go orders, she added.

How big a legend is the place? Many area residents have been long aware it was name-checked in author John Gardner’s novel The Sunlight Dialogues.

Gardner was a Batavia native and the Pok-A-Dot was his favorite restaurant. The location has kept its share of fans over the decades.

“I just don’t want people to think that we’re permanently closed,” Phyllis said. “Our customers have been pretty loyal. Some of the same people are still coming in. There’s still people who I remember from when I was a child.”

Phyllis Beers said there have been messages on Facebook and telephone calls from people asking about the Pok-A-Dot.

“Today, my husband (Tim) and I went over to do some fixing and there were about 20 people sitting at the picnic tables who were asking, ‘When are you going to open? When are you going to open?’” she said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1