It is Friday June 5, 2020 and today is the first day restaurants in both Lebanon and Dauphin counties are allowed to serve outdoors due to COVID-19. All area restaurants are still closed for indoor dining and most are still serving to go. This blog is not so much about the type of restaurant or it’s food. Links are included so you can check out the menus. And it is by no means, a complete list of restaurants serving outdoor dining. What I want to do is provide the reader to what I think each establishment has to provide with regards to its experience. So, who has the best outdoor facilities?
First on my list is the Hershey Pantry. Their outdoor covered patio was a favorite spot of mine prior to COVID-19. It has a full roof so dining in a heavy rain is not an issue and if the evening should become cool there are also heat lamps. In addition to the patio they will have some tents in their back yard as well as tables in a converted out building. But the best experience, in my opinion, is the patio. And unlike many other restaurants no reservations are required.
Second on my list is Fenicci’s of Hershey. This Italian restaurant in downtown has been a popular stop for visitors and locals for decades. Like the Hershey pantry they have a covered porch that will keep you dry even in a heavy rain. In addition to the porch there will also been a few tables out back. But these will not be covered and only used during good weather. You will need to make reservations at resy.com.
Next on my list is a new comer to the Hershey area, Iron Hill Brewery. They are located in the in the new section of restaurants and shops in downtown about two blocks west of the center of town. At the present time their outdoor seating is on the smaller side with only about 7 tables. If you can get a table, Iron Hill may be a good choice if you are trying to avoid a crowd. Each does have its own umbrella so you can be protected from a lite shower. Reservations are required by calling 717-312-5164.
Next on my list is Houlihan’s. They will have their outdoor seating area open overlooking the the center of downtown. Their largest table can seat 8. While they have large umbrellas to shade some of the tables, they do not have individual covered tables. So if it rains your french fries will get wet. Reservations are required by calling 717-534-3110.
Next is Dukes, located about two miles East of Hershey on Chocolate Ave. They have several tables on their patio which surrounds the main building. Many of their tables offer a unique cover that will keep you and your food protected in the event of rain. However, it may not be enough during a heavy downpour. Reservations are not required at Dukes.
The next few restaurants are not located right in Hershey but a close drive in the surrounding communities. Our first pick in this group is the Blue Bird Inn located in Cornwall, about 12 miles away. This restaurant has always been a personal favorite of mine and with a large deck it fits this group well. With 32 tables on their deck they have one of the largest outdoor seating areas. While all restaurants require a minimum distance between each table, the chances of finding a larger crowd here is greater. If you are trying to avoid a large group this may not be the best place. They do not accept reservations for the deck and have a maximum seating size of 6 people per group. The tables are a combination of open and with umbrellas. This restaurant can be very busy in normal times so expect a wait if you plan to go over the weekend for dinner.
Next on our list is Rotunda Restaurant and Brewery. Rotunda is about 5 miles east of the 1825 Inn in the small town of Annville. Before we get into their outdoor dining, a little clarification on their name may be in order. This restaurant was previously called the Batdorf. April was supposed to be the month of their re branding and reopening. But with COVID-19 getting in the way, things were put on a little hold. As result of this you may find their website and google maps still listing the Batdorf name. These are the same restaurant. But don’t be confused with the Rotunda Brew Pub in Hershey. This is their sister restaurant which is doing outdoor dining but does not have permanent outdoor section. Rotunda in Annville has their pub Tiki section which currently has 9 tables. The fixed roof will keep you dry in any rain event. Reservations are strongly suggested due to the limited number of tables. The maximum group size is 8 people. In addition to these tables the restaurant does have an additional 4 tables set up next to the pub. Each has its own umbrella and these are set for walk ins. Their phone number is 717-867-0113.
Our next out of the way spot is the small community of Mount Gretna. This has been a popular summer location with it’s lake and community theater for over 100 years. The Hide-A-Way Cafe offers a large deck and with most things Gretna, provides a tranquil atmosphere under the trees. Most of their 30 tables have their own large umbrella so you will be protected from an unplanned summer shower. If eating here don’t forget to leave room for ice cream. About a mile away is one of my favorite ice cream shops, the Jigger shop. The jigger shop just began it’s summer season on June 4th so they have not yet begun their outdoor seating on their large deck but for now get a sunday to go and have a seat on one of the many benches under the trees in Mount Gretna.
Last on my list is TJ Rockwells in Elizabethtown which is about 11 miles south of Hershey. They offer a large deck with 24 tables of which most are either covered or have umbrellas. They are serving parties no larger than 6 and reservations or call ahead seating are suggested but they will take walk ins if available. Their phone number is 717-367-5544.
And when staying in the Hershey area always remember to stay safe, stay small and stay inn at 1825 INN bed and breakfast. Click here for reservations. We look forward to seeing everyone again soon. We will update this post as needed. One thing we have found is that all things continue to change.