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As outdoor seating remains crucial, how will colder weather affect restaurants?

outdoor bar restaurant seating
Posted at 6:10 PM, Oct 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 18:24:18-04

CINCINNATI — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, outdoor seating remains a saving grace for many restaurants and bars in the Greater Cincinnati region. As temperatures drop, many businesses are already working to come up with a solution to chilly outdoor tents and pavilions.

"Crossing our fingers and hoping for a mild winter does not constitute a plan," said P.G. Sittenfeld, Cincinnati city council member.

Sittenfeld is working with business owners to determine how to accommodate patrons before it's time to bring out the heavier coats. Daniel Scott, owner of The Fishbowl in the Banks, said outdoor seating has been keeping his business afloat through the pandemic this year.

"I have a couple of calls into some tent companies to see what we can do out here, what the city will allow," said Scott. "What's safe, obviously."

Taste of Belgium is also searching for tents to accommodate patrons as temperatures begin to dip. Founder Jean-Francois Flechet said he's hoping they'll be able to get some tents in within the next few weeks.

Businesses are also hoping that, in addition to providing cover for outdoor seating, they'll be able to bring in heat lamps to keep patrons warmer as they enjoy meals and drinks.

"Everybody in the industry is fighting for survival at the moment," said Flechet.

Sittenfeld said he's looking to the city to provide clear permits and permissions for businesses that want to put up heat lamps or other methods of generating heat for outdoor seating. Scott said the patio for The Fishbowl has doubled the size of their business, allowing them to serve more guests while still maintaining social distancing guidelines with tables. He said they're working to make sure that patio is still usable in the coming months.

"We're working on any and everything," said Scott. "We're used to it at this point, after seven months of this."