Is outdoor dining the ‘new normal’ for restaurants post-pandemic?

Is outdoor dining the ‘new normal’ for restaurants post-pandemic?

U.S. restaurants turned from indoor to outdoor dining in hopes of establishing a new beginning after the massive losses incurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

As more states reopen, a growing number of cities are urging restaurants to ditch indoors and instead utilize open-air spaces for outdoor dining. Tampa, for instance, has issued a new policy that allows eatery to easily set up tables on sidewalks, parking lots, and streets.

But Tampa is not alone.

How cities help restaurants

The City of Tampa’s new measure to help small businesses has shown hope to restaurant owners who are heavily affected by the pandemic, resulting in several cities across the country to follow suit.

Boston, Cincinnati, Portland, Las Vegas, and California are now closing some streets and sidewalks to give way for make-shift patios. Some have to hasten the issuance of permits, while some have waived fees to help struggling eateries bounce back.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced on USA TODAY:

“As we transition to reopening Las Vegas, we want to ensure we are doing everything we can to assist our small businesses. Sidewalk dining is a safe and easy way we can help.”

Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut has released an executive order as well to speed up the issuance of outdoor dining permits.

At the same time, Mayor Jesse Arreguin of California told USA Today that the new model would not only help restaurant owners recover, but it would also shore up sales tax revenue for each state.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley also shared the same sentiment. He said that the city would need to open more public spaces and streets if they are to “continue its great renaissance as a city.”

The new normal for restaurants

The co-owner of Forbici, Jeff Gigante, is among the many resto operators who gave a positive response following the implementation of outdoor dining. He called the idea “a lifesaver,” as indoor dining is apparently a “losing proposition” for businesses like his due to scientific and health reasons.

Is outdoor dining the ‘new normal’ for restaurants post-pandemic?

Forbici had set up a 1,800-square-foot-tent outside its building on Snow Avenue and occupying a total of 72 seats.

Some restaurants in Virginia—including Denim and Pearl Restaurant—have also reopened for outdoor dining last Friday, May 15. With its rooftop deck at 50% capacity only, Denim and Pearl said they had a “crazy weekend reopening.”

“Just on Saturday, we did in sales what we had done the entire previous week just with curbside and delivery, ”Denim and Pearl owner Jenn Robinson shared.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ernst’s initiative to implement an alfresco style resto has positively accepted by his constituencies in Georgia. Soon after, the Ernst said his office had received numerous calls from other cities asking about his new initiative.

The science behind outdoor dining

The absence of a vaccine and a cure has set a bleak financial picture for many small business operators. But studies show that some businesses—particularly eateries—can still navigate the “new world” the COVID-19 disease has brought.

The key reason why several states urge resto owners to utilize outdoor spaces is the belief that the chance to catch SARS-CoV-2 is low.

However, no definitive studies are supporting it, said Dr. Jonathan Temte. But there are existing “supporting concepts,” according to the epidemiologist.

Another reason is physical distancing.

Expanding your space would not only allow owners to implement social-distanced dining, but it would also allow them to operate at full capacity.

Given the facts, it seems like more restaurants will take advantage of the economic and health benefits of outdoor dining amid pandemic in the coming weeks and months—making it the “new normal.”

Images courtesy of Patrick Rasenberg/Flickr, MrJayW/Pixabay

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