Melburnians desperate to head out for dinner and drinks after months in lockdown could be bitterly disappointed over coming weeks.
On the locked front door of Melbourne institution Pellegrini's Espresso Bar, under the neon lights that did not glow, read the following message from management.
"Pellegrini's Espresso Bar would like to advise our valued customers that due to Covid-19 we are closed until further notice."
That sign, which was attached to the door at 66 Bourke St for the entirety of Melbourne's lockdown, has today been lifted.
For the first time in months, Melburnians are allowed to sit and talk with the Italian owners of one of the city's first real coffee shops — a place that has grown to mean so much more than espresso in recent years.
Owner David Malaspina told news.com.au he was ecstatic to see his customers again, even if things were different now.
"I've got a few happy faces in here this morning. It's wonderful to see their faces. It's hard to see the smiles before they take the masks off to sip their coffee. But it's wonderful."
He can't have as many people inside as he'd like, and he's still waiting on deliveries of fruit and vegetables, but the kitchen is up and running again.
He said the last 24 hours was chaos.
"Sanitise was the magic word. We cleaned everything. We ordered all our produce and I'm still waiting on my orders, but I imagine deliveries are backed up today.
"We're a bit limited, but we're cooking bolognese sauce and napoli sauce so we're right for lunch."
He said Bourke St was a "ghost town" over the last few months and will take some time to return to normal.
"A lot of the offices were closed down. We're waiting for theatres to reopen and people to come back into town but people need good coffees."
At the Post Office Hotel in Coburg, the phones are running off the hook. Punters were so keen to get back in for a meal or a beer in the garden that they didn't even wait for the Premier to finish his announcement on Monday.
Manager Tristan Jallais told news.com.au bookings for dinner have been reserved until the end of next week, and it's only Wednesday. He called the response "insane".
"Midway through Daniel Andrews' announcement, the phone started lighting up and we were getting email requests. By 10.30am Tuesday morning, we had booked Thursday, Friday and Saturday dinner out completely. It was insane. Folks are champing at the bit to dive in."
He said the venue, which can hold a capacity of 70 people under Victoria's new dining rules, would open at different hours to make sure everybody gets a go.
"We're throwing open the gates from 3pm for a once-off drinks type thing today before we get into the normal routine tomorrow.
"We'll also open earlier each day so people can come in on the way home from work and have a beer. And we'll stay open a bit later for the same reason, so accommodate everyone."
It's the same story at The Stolberg in nearby Preston where management told news.com.au they were booked out every night for the rest of the week.
"I'm not sure if you'd say it happened faster that you might think or slower than you might think, but it was quick," a manager said.
On the foreshore in Elwood, business is ramping up again. Pete Coutet, the general manager of Elwood Bathers, said staff survived on adrenaline on Tuesday to work 14-hours shifts getting the place ready for diners — and there are plenty.
"Yesterday was a very busy day. It's like doing a new restaurant. We've been trading for seven months, takeaway only. So it was a long day. The phone didn't stop ringing. Two phones were going off all the way from 8am to 9pm.
"We're booked out now for the next three weeks. And that's purely for walk-ins."
The establishment had 120 staff when they closed and had been operating with just 25. So yesterday, they called those who were out of work and asked if they could come back.
It's much needed help ahead of the first meals served in house at 11.30am today.
Coutet said he was on board with plans to reopen responsibly with restrictions on the number of customers in the venue at any one time.
"You want to do the responsible thing. We wanted to make sure everyone's safety is paramount," he said.
"It's baby steps at the moment, we'll be making sure they're wearing face masks when they're not eating and drinking. We're just doing the best we can to make sure Victoria is safe for everybody."