Cassie Gourley (center), bar manager at Orono Brewing Company on Margin Street in Orono, and bartender Miranda Tilton (far left) chat with a customer at the Beer Hut on Thursday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Orono Brewing Company’s flagship location on Margin Street in Orono recently reopened for indoor and outdoor dining and bar service after more than four months closed, with a large new outdoor patio to accommodate more customers safely.

The new beer garden at OBC, in the works since the restaurant and brewery’s closure in mid-March after the coronavirus pandemic began, features a new fenced-in area, lots of new outdoor seating, extensive new flower beds and landscaping, atmospheric lighting, fire pits and a new mural painted by Marty Reynolds, a Portland artist responsible for much of the artwork in the inside dining area. Customers can also order all food and beverage outside, instead of only inside.

It’s an example of how a restaurant has pivoted to a new socially distanced reality since the coronavirus hit and upended the business landscape for the food and beverage industry.

Though owners Abe and Heather Furth, Mark Horton and Asa Marsh-Sachs had planned to expand the outdoor patio long before the pandemic struck, the need to do it became even more important as it became clear outdoor dining would be the safer option to reduce spread of the virus.

“We’ll have hosts that will bring you to your table, so it’s all controlled and people aren’t just milling around,” said co-owner Abe Furth, in an interview with the BDN last month. “The goal was always to make our outdoor area a beautiful space, so this was the best opportunity to do that. People already want to be outside.”

Though capacity for the outdoor space is still capped at 50, there is also indoor dining available, also capped at 50. In early May the owners cut a huge hole in one side of the building and installed a garage door. When that door and the other garage door on the opposite side of the building are both open, a cross breeze allows for dramatically increased air circulation.

The Furths and Horton also own Woodman’s Bar & Grill in Orono, and recently reopened that restaurant as well with an expanded outdoor patio, though indoor dining there is still on hold.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.