Restaurants Contend With Elements To Accommodate Outdoor Dining

Thursday, August 13th 2020, 12:05 pm
By: CBS News

Many restaurants across the country have been able to reopen this summer by moving their seating outside.

While outdoor dining is popular, it comes with challenges for both diners and restaurant owners.

A meal at your favorite restaurant looks a bit different these days. Tables cover sidewalks and, in some places, fill the streets.

"I've been stuck in my apartment for six months, you know, it's definitely worth it going out,” said outdoor diner Lawrence Buzzerio.

But it's not always comfortable.

"The cars are standing idle. When there's traffic you’ve got the, you know, their mufflers in the back, all the smoke is coming out of their car, you can breathe it, you can smell it over your food,” said diner Israel Oliveras.

There have been accidents like one in New Jersey, when a driver fainted and plowed into an outdoor dining area that was closed at the time. The restaurant has now installed concrete barriers.

The weather can be an issue too.

"We were outside and a huge storm came, blew away the umbrella and we started getting soaking wet while we were trying to eat,” Buzzerio said.

While the elements are causing issues for diners, restaurant owners and staff are facing their own roadblocks.

At modern Indian restaurant Rahi, crews had to rebuild their outdoor space after it was blown apart in a storm.

"That means no business on a Friday night, that also meant we lost all of our umbrellas, tents, gone. Literally flew away across the street,” said owner Roni Mazumdar.

Rahi has been able to stay afloat during these turbulent times, but others have not. According to Yelp, 60% of restaurants that shutdown during the pandemic are now permanently closed.

"The way we all thought about the whole industry, I think all of those are down the drain somewhere. We have to constantly rethink and revisit every single challenge that comes up daily,” Mazumdar said.

The plan now is to weather whatever storm comes next.

Though many restaurants have reopened for in-house dining, the report from Yelp showed takeout and delivery options are still more popular than ever.