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Outdoor bar at Lakemont Park opens during coronavirus

Courtesy of Doug Simon / Patrons socialize, drink and listen to music at Lakemont Park’s C2 Trolley House.

The coronavirus pandemic has left its mark on numerous local businesses, including The Casino at Lakemont Park.

“The impact on us has been horrible. Every plan we had has been disrupted. The number of events we had to postpone or reschedule is unbelievable. It caused us to rethink our opportunities,” owner Doug Simon said.

Simon and Lakemont Park officials started talking in late May about a plan on how to use the C2 Trolley House, which was originally designed as an outdoor bar area in the newly redesigned scheme of the park.

“For the 2020 season, C2 wanted to expand its outdoor offering, and we agreed that they could serve dinner. We knew the community would be looking for outdoor dining options this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said park President Andrea Cohen.

“We saw this as an opportunity to increase our catering business. We have an extraordinarily talented staff, and this gave us the opportunity to provide food when outdoor dining was being pushed more than ever before. There is not a location around here that can provide what we have here with green space around us,” Simon said.

The nearby Dippy’s ice cream/food stand, which became available when the park decided not to open it this year, serves as the kitchen.

“We chose to go with an eclectic menu focusing on features such as chicken wings with different sauces, a couple of salads, a couple of sandwiches, nachos and some kids foods. We created a menu, tested every recipe, and set up our kitchen operations in under four weeks,” Simon said.

The pavilion holds seating for 112 guests, and there is unlimited seating space in the nearby grassy area.

“This is for people who are looking to go out and be in a safe environment,” Simon said. “We believe this is a perfect opportunity. Our goal is to draw people here. We are outdoors dining at its best. We want to make an impact and help the park. We have given people reasons to come to this wonderful green space.”

The C2 Trolley House also is beneficial to Simon’s employees.

“With our events limited, we can give our staff four days of guaranteed employment for the remainder of the summer,” he said.

C2 Trolley House opened June 24 and averaged nearly 50 guests for the first four evenings.

Cohen appreciates what is being done at the pavilion.

“Many guests will be coming to C2 because it is a unique spot, but we believe it will introduce people to the new Lakemont Park concept,” she said. “We want to be a community gathering place during the summer — if you wish to play a round of (miniature) golf, have a beer, or take an art class, and then go for a leisurely walk through the park and enjoy our new landscaping. We hope the C2 expansion will be successful and that they will continue to evolve to meet our community’s needs.”

C2 Trolley House is open Wednesday through Sat­urday from 4 p.m. until the park closes.

Reservations are not required but are recommended by calling 944-6775.

C2 Trolley House pavilion is also available for businesses or community organizations for private functions, Simon said.

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