Restaurant owners fear outdoor dining will become challenging as weather cools

Restaurant owners say that they fear that as the weather cools, outdoor dining will become challenging, hurting their revenue stream. This may be especially true for restaurants that depend on a seasonal crowd.

News 12 Staff

Sep 17, 2020, 2:41 AM

Updated 1,307 days ago

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Restaurant owners say that they fear that as the weather cools, outdoor dining will become challenging, hurting their revenue stream. This may be especially true for restaurants that depend on a seasonal crowd.
Anyone who wants southern food in New Jersey may find the best in the state at Simply Southern in Belmar. Rasheed Simmons who runs the restaurant says that she survived the pandemic by rebranding.
“We’ve had to make a lot of changes,” he says.
The biggest change was the dining room he created in the parking lot with room for 60 seats. It was a space that cost him $10,000. This is on top of a pandemic-related revenue loss of about $100,000 since March.
“It allows me to keep my employees – 55 employed. Keep my kitchen staff and keep people working,” Simmons says.
Simply Southern is also open for indoor dining. But the 25% capacity limit imposed by the state is just not sustainable, according to Simmons.
“In an ideal world, we’d like to do both for as long as we can. Fifty-percent inside or maximum outside would be great for us,” he says.
But things are not getting easier. Belmar restaurants depend on a seasonal crowd. Post-Labor Day, Simmons says that he is now losing 60% of his customers. And with the weather getting colder, Simmons says that he is going to have to make chances once again. This includes walls on his main tent and heat lamps coming soon.
This is why there is a statewide push to get increase capacity, as well as to get more funding for small businesses.
The New Jersey Restaurant Association expects 35% of independent restaurants will go out of business by the end of the year.
“If we are going to do it, let’s do it,” says Simmons. “Let’s not play around because you’re playing with people’s lives.”
Some towns around the state have been preparing to extend outdoor dining. Hoboken released guidelines that including heating options and snow removal procedures. There is also an application process.
Hoboken officials have extended outdoor dining options through 2021.


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