WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Shelly Dewees is back to waiting tables.
That’s one of the many responsibilities she’s had in her more than 25-year career at Shuler’s Restaurant.
The Watertown eatery was one of many that had to shut down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving Dewees without work and with conflicting thoughts.
“A little bit between not wanting to open because you’re a little frightened of it,” she said, “but then, being just so bored and wanting to do something.”
The cooks are in the kitchen too.
That includes Donald Bayette, an employee of about 30 years.
He says the restaurant has been a part of his life even longer.
“We used to come in here and play video games in the corner,” he said, “come down and get French fries.”
Shuler’s reopened last week.
Dewees says right now they’re running with limited hours and a limited menu, but she says it’s just good to be back.
“Great. Yay. I’m just glad to out and about and working again,” she said. “There’s nothing better than that.”
That’s a sentiment Bayette says he agrees with, despite getting a bit of a break from working.
“To be honest, it was the longest time in my whole life I’ve ever had off,” he said. “It was almost nice to be sitting there, but then I got kind of stir crazy.”
Both Bayette and Dewees say their biggest challenge since being back is having to wear a mask, while working back in the kitchen.
“It’s summertime and it’s hot out there to begin with.,” Bayette said, “and you start depriving yourself of air, it starts getting a little intense. So, you just got to step outside and get your masks off and drink lots of water.”
Even with challenges and restrictions, Shuler’s is welcoming back the community its fed for decades and the decades-long employees working to keep their community fed.