Restaurants prepare for cold weather impacting outdoor seating

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 8:31 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Restaurants have been relying on outdoor seating to spread customers apart, but as the weather gets colder, they may have a harder time getting guests willing to brave the cold.

Outdoor seating has been a way for restaurants to serve more people than their 50% indoor capacity allows.

“Folks certainly are concerned about how to keep operating at that 50% indoor capacity, because you can only operate at 50% for so long," said Alex Armani-Munn, the Downtown Partnership Economic Development Expert.

Downtown Colorado Springs Restaurants have been able to expand outdoor seating into the streets on weekend evenings because of permits approved by the state for the Dine Out Downtown project. Those permits were going to expire September 30th, but got extended to October 24th. City leaders are trying to get state approval for the project through October 2021.

Winter likely will bring frigid temperatures, along with snow and ice. That likely would put outdoor dining on hold, which could hurt restaurants trying to recover from the first wave of pandemic losses.

“Peak of the shutdown, our bars and restaurants were down 60% in gross sales," Armani-Munn added. “It takes folks not just a month or two of matching or beating their old numbers. Really, they need to just smash those old numbers to recover from those kinds of losses.”

The Downtown Partnership has made blankets available for sale at downtown businesses, as well as helped restaurants buy outdoor space heaters to try to keep outdoor dining afloat as long as possible.

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