Restaurants with outdoor dining look to keep guests comfortable during fall

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CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio (WJW) — Many businesses are hoping the fall chill does not put outdoor dining on ice.

Open-air dining in Chagrin Falls is providing many restaurants with a lifeline as they continue to overcome financial challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“It’s pretty much the only business besides takeout that we have right now,” said Dawn Hankison, M Italian general manager. “The only time that we do get indoor dining is once the patio is actually full.”

Hankison said they have more than a dozen outdoor dining tables; however, plans to better accommodate guests in the cold could mean losing 10 tables in order to enclose the space.

“We do have heat lamps that are covering the tables then we have a fire pit and we will be enclosing the patio a little bit later this year,” said Hankison. “I think it’s going to be in November instead of the middle of October to kind of extend that period because I think even with the colder days people will tend to sit out there.”

​Nearby, the Yours Truly Restaurant rooftop patio has proved vital this summer.

“Oh, it’s huge like this time of year,” said Lawrence Shibley, a partner of Yours Truly Restaurants. “If it was intended to be 10% of dining sales it’s probably more like 25 or 30.”

The restaurant is exploring options to keep guests comfortable this fall. Shibley said sales are still heavily anchored by indoor dining as opposed to dining outdoors. 

“We’re working on the idea of adding some area heaters some of the patios are conducive for some additional shielding of plastic etc. to keep the cold air out,” said Shibley.

He said they’ve found people prefer to be outside when possible but are not going to necessarily stay home because of the weather. Carryout sales are expected to increase during colder months.

Away from downtown Chagrin Falls, Plaza Agave, which relies on carryout, is not planning changes to their outdoor dining seating.

“For right now we’ve not had too many [dine in] customers; it’s a lot of orders, carryout,” said Rosa Guerrero, the manager of Plaza Agave. 

Guerrero said she’s thankful for community support during this difficult time and hopes it will continue as colder weather settles.

“Yes, I’m a little worried about that…since coronavirus, all customers like to eat outside,” Guerrero said.

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