It’s been more than two years since the Gathering Place opened its doors for indoor dining.
On Monday morning that changed.
“Our guests were certainly excited to be able to enjoy their meal inside,” said executive director Dennis Chippa.
“But people are still uncomfortable coming in.”
Chippa said 72 guests were treated to breakfast Monday. Half decided to take advantage of the indoor dining option and the other half took their meals to go.
Lunch was a different story. The lunch line for indoor dining extended past the building along the sidewalk on Cassells Street.
The menu included homemade soup, pizza, salad and a piece of fruit.
While guests were being fed, volunteers and the chef were busy preparing dinner, which included fresh vegetables and steak.
Chippa said opening the doors for indoor dining was also a learning curve for many volunteers who just started helping during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have volunteers and staff who have never been part of the dine-in experience before and have to be trained,” he told The Nugget Monday morning.
The Gathering Place has 28 available seats for breakfast and lunch meals. Dinners and meals during the weekend will continue to be take-out only.
Chippa said many guests were happy to hear dinners will continue to be provided as take-out.
“People are having to make some tough choices. The cost of everything has increased, especially food. Parents are coming to The Gathering Place to collect meals for their children and they’re telling them they ordered the food from a restaurant.”
Chippa said numbers have steadily increased throughout the pandemic, however the rising price of groceries is forcing more individuals and families to make tough decisions.
He said knowing the city’s soup kitchen can feed them is providing individuals with the ability to be able to pay their rent.