SCRANTON, Pa. — Local restaurants across the country have struggled to stay afloat, and it's no different in Scranton.
With social distancing restrictions limiting the number of people inside, restaurants that have no or limited outdoor seating have lost vital business.
"If restrictions continue and we don't receive any assistance, it may actually be a miracle for many of us to survive," said Patrick Nasser, the owner of Backyard Ale House on Courthouse Square.
He was speaking at the launch of a new initiative called "Rally for Restaurants" at Lackawanna College's Culinary Arts Building on Adams Avenue.
The effort was put together by Lackawanna College, the city of Scranton, and Scranton Tomorrow to help restaurants financially.
Instead of the college opening its restaurant used to train culinary students, it is turning the building and restaurant over to local restaurants.
It's at no cost to the restaurants, which will use the building's kitchen, food stock, and culinary students to serve dinners in the building's outdoor courtyard.
Restaurants take home 100 percent of dinner sales proceeds.
"We have a need to train students. Restaurants have a need for increased outdoor seating," said Stephanie Decker, Lackawanna College's Executive Director of Social and Economic Impact. "Why can't become up with a collaboration where both of these problems are solved?"
The first dinner service for Rally for Restaurants will be September 29 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Reservations are required.
Bar Pazzo will be the restaurant serving that night.
Chef John Tabone is excited to get to train these students.
"Developing young talent, you know, who knows? Maybe I'll inspire somebody, or maybe I'll be inspired, "said Tabone.
"It's going to give them a look at real-life working because there's a lot of differences between in-the-field work and culinary work," said culinary arts student Ronald Caputo.
Social distancing rules remain in place.
Lackawanna College asks diners to use a self-screening app called CampusClear before coming on campus.
For more information on that app and details on "Rally for Restaurants," go to this link Lackawanna College has set for up.