Outdoor dining options for colder weather during COVID pandemic

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With winter coming, outdoor dining may no longer be an option for restaurants that have limited indoor capacity.

There are some restaurants coming up with creative ways to maintain outdoor dining, but for some, the cost of keeping it going isn’t feasible. Restaurants are still down to 50 percent capacity indoors during this Phase 3 of Massachusetts’ reopening plan.

Center Square Grill in East Longmeadow has had success with its outdoor patio this year, but it doesn’t look the same now. They set up a heated igloo so people can eat outside and be protected from the cold. You can also eat in their “greenhouses” out front, which they sanitize after every use.

Owner, Bill Collins, said this was just a matter of giving the customer what they want.

“This might be something that someone who is concerned about their health may want to partake in,” said Collins. “I’ve already heard that a lot with the greenhouses as well. So we are just trying to make sure they safe while staying in business.”

But other restaurant owners don’t want to have to deal with the cost of heating outdoor dining spaces. They also have safety concerns.

“You got to bring propane in, that’s a functional cost. These tents don’t have a snow-load capability. In the spirit of safety, these things could break down if there is a big snowstorm so those are the liabilities issues that are upon us,” said Andy Yee, owner of Student Prince.

For these reasons, Yee said they’ll be sticking with just indoor dining and are hoping they’ll be able to stay afloat with a stronger takeout business during the holidays.

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