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Restaurant patio season ends soon. Then what?

September 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Faced with the prospect of losing dining space – and offering fewer tables to Covid-wary customers who prefer not to dine inside – local restaurants are at a crossroads.

When it comes to recouping money restaurants have lost to the Covid shutdowns, patios have played an important part. But with cooler weather – and winter – fast approaching, the lifeline that outdoor dining provided to restaurant owners is beginning to slip away.

Faced with the prospect of losing dining space – and offering fewer tables to Covid-wary customers who prefer not to dine inside – local restaurants are at a crossroads. Do they invest in heaters and tents that could stretch their outdoor dining season by weeks or months?

People certainly feel more comfortable outside," said Dan Garvey, innkeeper at the Roycroft Inn and past chairman of the New York State Restaurant Association.

And while patrons are still dining, "it's not the same as pre-Covid," Termini said. The restaurant has expanded its outdoor dining space into a rented parking lot next door, giving it room to add greenhouses that will encompass each table.

Business owners have to do the math to decide whether such investments will be worth the return, especially considering the region's unpredictable weather. Heaters are worth it for the Roycroft Inn, which had patrons sitting in its open-air peristyle in 67-degree weather this week – patrons who "said they would never eat inside any restaurant," Garvey said.

Skubis plans to start construction on a permanent deck, a members-only cigar bar and an open-air cafe next year. "You gotta have outdoor dining with Covid," he said. With gatherings of more than 50 people prohibited, the restaurant lost its wedding bookings and many banquets.

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