Restaurant owners look forward to warmer weather to increase outdoor dining
With temperatures nearing 70 degrees this weekend, those in the restaurant industry are hoping that people choose to dine outdoors.
While indoor dining capacity sits at 35%, many took the opportunity on Tuesday to eat outdoors as well.
“After all the snow, it’s awesome to be able to get out,” says Westville resident Kelly Moore.
Moore and her friend Sam Araco ditched their jackets and ate outside at Central Taco and Tequila in Haddon Township.
“We’ve been going out to eat this whole time, but usually we’ve been staying outside. But it’s finally nice to feel comfortable since its warm out again instead of sitting outside in the freezing cold,” says Araco.
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Central Taco was one of the many restaurants that added extra tables outside this week as temperatures climb into the low-70s by Thursday. Restaurant owners say that weather like this gives them a much-needed boost.
“We still can’t have any bar seating right now unfortunately, which stinks for us,” says Central Taco beverage manager Caitlyn Ricci. “We’re a tequila bar, so of course we want people at the bar, so it limits us a little bit right now. So with outdoor dining, it almost doubles our restaurant.”
Those in the restaurant industry say that over the past year they have learned to adapt to changing restrictions and to the weather.
“Right now, it’s a complete day-by-day situation and especially with not knowing if Gov. [Phil] Murphy’s going to make a change today, next week, next month. It’s just keeping us on our toes,” says Ricci.
The governor has not given a timeline as to when indoor dining capacity will expand, so the restaurant owners say that they are planning for another summer outdoors.
"Fortunately, with having last [summer] under our belt, we’re a little bit more prepared going forward this summer just because we know what to expect,” Ricci says. “We kind of have a little bit more ideas of what to put out there."
Murphy says that the next likely expansion for indoor dining will be to 50%.