Outdoor dining is lovely, but at what cost?

Outdoor dining saved restaurants during the pandemic, but not all of them are doubling down on it this winter.

Cobblestone is def underrated (Souce: Edwin Remsberg / Getty Images)

Outdoor dining is lovely, but at what cost?

Outdoor dining generally gets favorable reviews across the board:

  • Restaurants consider it a saving grace amid the pandemic
  • Diners love it because it allows them to maintain social distancing protocols
  • Onlookers appreciate the European vibes on city streets

Despite widespread approval, extending outdoor dining creates a new set of questions for restaurant owners, per The Wall Street Journal.

Last year, restaurants were in survival mode…

… which led to impromptu outdoor setups featuring propane-powered space heaters, tents, and low-cost patio furniture.

These setups created headaches that were worth it at the time, like scrambling to change ~10 propane tanks per night and furniture getting damaged by nearby traffic.

Heading into this winter, many restaurants are making investments to uplevel their outdoor experience across all axes, including:

  • Decor (e.g., permanent fixtures, infrared heaters, and thematic decor)
  • Staff (e.g., warmer uniforms and tablets to make orders more efficient)
  • Diners (e.g., blankets, knit hats, and warm menu additions to fight the cold)

But external factors are complicating the equation

Rising food prices and a shortage of restaurant workers means some restaurant owners need to weigh the scope of their outdoor investment. Further complicating the matter are temporary outdoor dining permits that vary by location.

Regardless, with 80% of diners in favor of permanent outdoor dining, the trend is here to stay.

P.S. If you’re looking to rig your own outdoor dining setup, check out these top-rated space heaters.

Topics: Coronavirus

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