NEW YORK — Restaurant owner Inna Mashiach can't help but reflect how much has changed over the past year.

What You Need To Know

  • Reunion restaurant is opening with 50% indoor seating

  • The owner says for a small space like hers, it makes a big difference

  • It's a big step for restaurants citywide which have been crippled by COVID-19 restrictions

"We still sometimes see old pictures on Instagram of this place being open before COVID and we still can't believe how people sat," she said.

Her restaurant Reunion in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has stayed open all year, navigating between offering just take-out, then outdoor dining, and then the back and forth of indoor dining.

Now they're reopening at 50% capacity indoors per state guidelines, which for a small space like hers, makes a big difference.

At the current 35% capacity she could only serve 10 people.

"We're up to 15 people basically which is great for larger groups, especially on the weekends on brunch and dinner. We can finally sit larger groups inside. If it's cold or rainy, especially kids that like to come with families," said Mashiach.

It's a big step for restaurants citywide which have been crippled by COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the New York City restaurant alliance roughly 5,000 restaurants have closed, and 140,000 jobs lost.

It's a loss felt by so many.

"Before the pandemic, we took things for granted and now, and now definitely I'm going to enjoy everything and every time I go out and eat and drink coffee, I'm going to savor it more," said customer Fabiano Daoud.

With the capacity change does come safety concerns, though.

Mashiach said that's why her whole staff got vaccinated once restaurant workers became eligible.

"It's had me slightly nervous but not as nervous as I was like a few months ago. I just had my second shot of the vaccine so I feel a little more comfortable with it," said an employee, Duane Hosein.

So you'll still see masks, social distancing and Plexiglass, but with a few more happy customers.