Breakfast wasn’t as bustling as everyone hoped Sunday morning, but it’s also been a while since any pancakes or French toast came off the grill at the Clifton Park Elks Lodge #2466 on Mac Elroy Road in Ballston Lake.
The civic organization hasn’t hosted a monthly breakfast since the New York State quarantine notice in March. After entering Phase 3 in mid-June, the Past Exalted Rulers hosted its first summer monthly breakfast Sunday.
“We’re governed by the same rules that [restaurants] all have,” Mike Bloss, Past Exalted Ruler, and current facility manager, said. “That’s why you see the tables farther apart than normal, have the same rules, 50 percent capacity, everybody has to wear their mask when they are up walking around.
“Mask off when seated dining or having a cocktail. That’s all working out pretty well.”
For $8 per person, one can enjoy an all-you-can-eat selection of pancakes, French toast, eggs, juice, coffee, home fried potatoes and more. Discounts are applied for seniors, veterans, and children younger than 12.
U.S. Army veteran and Elks member Allen Atwell, 94, of Clifton Park, was at the door handling the morning’s proceeds and glad to see some friends face to face.
“I was still active in the Elks, the Jonesville Fire Department, the VFW, the American Legion and those meetings were all tabled,” Atwell said. “They’re just starting to open up now.
“I looked forward to seeing our members and visitors that do make it.”
One table made up for the lack of population with laughs and stories, supporting the monthly event.
Joan Mathias, of Clifton Park, Susan Farnan, of Stillwater and Ron Osterlitz, of Burnt Hills shared a table Sunday.
They offered up memories from the initial lockdown.
“I think the worst part was not seeing the babies, the [grand] kids,” Joan Mathias said.
“You miss them terrible when you have them every day or every other day,” Susan Farnan said.
They laughed when sharing toilet paper scramble stories that Audrey Osterlitz, who stepped away from her grill duties, admitted she still has some left, with Mathias and Farnan replying ‘So that was you!’
While the group spent time with their spouses reading, completing puzzles and some gardening, the reopening phases have been welcome.
“We were separated for quite a while, we were all quarantined for so long, now it’s nice to go out and see certain people,” Farnan said. “We’ve been out, and people have been good. We went to The Vista and The Ripe Tomato, and sat outside.”
They have also enjoyed their time back at the Elks Lodge.
“They are doing a really good job, like in the bar, they follow all the guidelines, they are cleaning constantly,” Mathias said. “You can’t step off that bar stool without a mask, the bartender will let you know.
“We’re at risk of losing our [liquor] license if we don’t comply, so we have to make sure everyone who comes here complies and they do a good job.”
The initial return was quiet, but hopes are that the numbers will increase next month.
“We used to get big groups of people coming from church,” Bloss said. “A lot of people aren’t going to church yet, so that’s another thing where people would go to church and eight people would come.
“If they are going to church, they’re usually not going in bunches and we’ll see how that plays out.”