Perhaps, many restaurant owners said. As renowned chef David Burke, a Fort Lee resident who owns five restaurants in New Jersey including Ventanas in Fort Lee and David Burke Orange Lawn in South Orange, put it, "We'll take what we can get."

"There's a time for everything, and this is probably the right time to open in New Jersey," said Anthony Bucco, chef and partner of Felina in Ridgewood. "The last thing anyone wants is to open and then close again because suddenly cases of COVID spike."

"Can most restaurants make a profit at 25%?" said Francis Schott, co-owner of Stage Left Steak and Catherine Lombardi, two stalwart restaurants in New Brunswick. "No. But I'm hoping that 25% is a march toward 50% and then 75%, and eventually 100."

"Indoor dining at 25% capacity is not sustainable," Kunisch said. "Twenty-five percent does not cover overhead. I can’t send my mortgage company 25% of my mortgage. I can't pay my utility company 25% of my bill."

"I know a lot of folks on the brink," Schott said. "There are a bunch of restaurants that are dead-man-walking. A lot are functionally bankrupt. They've extended their line of credit, sold some equipment, have done everything they could to stay afloat. They are on thin ice."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo allowed indoor dining to resume June 23 in his state. (New York City still does not permit it.) Indoor dining is also permitted in Delaware and Connecticut — at 50% — and Pennsylvania at 25% capacity. (Philadelphia is scheduled to resume indoor dining on Sept. 8.)

"Indoor dining, although only at 50% capacity in New York state, has been a lifeline to restaurants," said Peter Kelly, who owns two restaurants, X2O Xaviars on the Hudson in Yonkers, New York, and Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar in Congers, New York. "I have been particularly fortunate, as both our restaurants are large and are especially capable of spacing tables with plenty of social distancing."

"We will be full at first," he said. "But what happens on the fifth day? I don’t know what will happen on a random Tuesday afternoon."

"At first, no one wanted to eat inside," reported Benjamin Prelvukaj, co-owner of Benjamin Steakhouse in White Plains, New York. "But now people are getting more comfortable and we’re seeing our numbers inside rise."

The story is similar at Traditions 118 in Granite Springs, New York, where Michael Lubic, who owns the restaurant with his mother, Lisa, said indoor dining has been going well. The Lubics say having adequately spaced tables, providing disposable menus and adhering to strict social distancing guidelines have helped customers feel safe indoors. "People notice these changes and really appreciate them," he said. "It helps make them feel more comfortable."

"It’s not like people rushed back," said Rui Lucas, owner of the Na’Brasa Brazilian Steakhouse and Iron Abbey restaurants in Horsham, Montgomery County. "We didn’t have to stop people from coming into the restaurant. Customer confidence is way low."

"We used to compete with the malls and New York City," he said. "This has given us the opportunity to capture that revenue. People really are thinking locally."

"There will be at least one dry martini," he said, "with olives on the side. They take up too much room in the glass."

Esther Davidowitz is the food editor for For more on where to dine and drink, please subscribe today and sign up for our North Jersey Eats newsletter.