Restaurants in colder areas face new challenges in outdoor dining as winter approaches
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Outdoor dining has been a lifeline for many restaurants during the pandemic. But a new report from Goldman Sachs estimates that winter weather will reduce consumer spending at restaurants by 3%-4%, which means some restaurants may need to rethink things. And whether that’s an investment in retrofitting an outdoor dining space or buying heaters, it all costs money.
Sam Glynn owns Chomp Kitchen and Drinks in Warren, Rhode Island. It’s been sunny and warm there lately, but not for long.
“Starting next week, we’re actually putting a 20-by-50 tent over our biergarten that will be heated with a tent heater, to hopefully buy us a couple more months,” Glynn said.
He’ll rent the tent for about $7,000 a month, and he’s paying for it with some help from the local government that offered grants to restaurants to weatherproof for the winter.
Mike Whatley, vice president of state and local affairs at the National Restaurant Association, said Glynn is lucky to find anything.
“In certain markets, finding heat lamps for outdoors is as difficult now as finding toilet paper was for consumers in March,” he said.
And even if restaurant owners can find heaters, they will also have to pay for the propane. Whatley said across the country, outdoor dining is making up roughly half of all of restaurant sales. So when winter hits, he said those in colder areas will either have to find a heating solution or could be forced to shut down.
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