Looming cold a concern for restaurants depending on outdoor dining

Food and Drink

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — As the colder weather sets in, that will mean less people outdoors. Outdoor dining was a move that saved many local restaurants when re-opening during the pandemic. Now, with the chill in the air, many are looking for solutions to keep customer traffic coming in. 

Across the country, many restaurants are scrambling to find outdoor heaters and heat lamps, so at least until the heavy snow falls, people will still come and eat outdoors.

“And with limited capacity inside, we’ve been able to kind of off-set that by having so much outdoor space,” says John Paul Scott, General Manager with Bitter Honey near the Public Market.

Scott says the concrete barriers the city installed over the summer in the road has given them an expansion of two to three times the space to seat customers. Scott says he’s been ready for the chilly nights and has heating lamps ready to put up. 

“So at least during the early fall months, it’s comfortable. Kind of like a camp fire,” he says laughing.

“A lot of passerby’s see were out there with the umbrellas, but it kind of makes people want to come in. It’s warm it’s inviting,” says Dan Hines, the head chef at Veneto Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta on East Ave.

Veneto has a smaller outdoor section, at least for now. Hines isn’t sure if the city will keep the plastic barriers up that allow outdoor dining.

“I feel like it’s going to be more dangerous with the icy roads,” says server Aliyah Delice. Also, plowing will play a major factor in likely dismantling the outdoor section.

Hines says with winter coming, more needs to be done so bodies can come in. “We have our fingers crossed that things are going to get better from here on out. We’ll be able to have a little more customers inside as things get tighter.”

When the snow does set in and pile high,  Scott is hoping to put more precautions indoors. Too many heating units means less room for seating.

“We’ll get more like, plexiglass dividing, so even if you don’t have six feet, you’re good. And so hopefully we can do that,” says Scott.

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