DETROIT (FOX 2) - It’s a harsh reality as restaurants and bars continue to enforce capacity restrictions. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order to slow the spread of COVID-19 has led businesses like those to utilize their outdoor space.
"It’s negative but as a business owner you understand governor has to make hard calls," said George Teftsis, owner of Red Smoke BBQ.
As temperatures approach near 80 degrees on the first full day of fall Wednesday, restaurant owners know using outdoor spaces to increase their footprint could soon face another challenge - winter snow and frigid temperatures.
So this restaurant owner is planning ahead to keep his business afloat and not lose the use of this patio space.
"I am looking at possible enclosures, whether it is vinyl, studs, glass, heat lamps for our guests to be comfortable while they are eating," he said. "I'll be pushing our outdoor patio toward the street with some possible sidewalk movements in the middle of it."
The owner of Red Smoke says his business actually increases in the winter because the food he serves and not being able to use this outdoor space would hurt the bottom line.
"People really enjoy ribs and brisket, those warm and healthy meals in the winter," he said.
As restaurant and bar owners continue to face capacity restrictions, the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association is pushing local governments to help owners with expanding outdoor spaces and patios in a statement its president says in part:
"We are encouraging local units of government to utilize Enhancement Grants they recently obtained through federal CARES Act appropriations to subsidize the expense and urging the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to extend temporary outdoor service permits indefinitely.... this will help keep city storefronts viable and stave off permanent closure for many restaurants.”
The owner of Red Smoke says he also looking ahead to creating more outdoor space.
"We’re also developing a rooftop patio deck on top of our building that is under construction," he said. "It will probably won't be ready until 2021."
The complete statement from Justin Winslow, MRLA President & CEO reads:
“One of the common-sense policy proposals in our Out in the Cold campaign includes allowing restaurants to effectively operate the expanded dining capacity they gained via patios and other outdoor spaces this past summer. We are encouraging local units of government to utilize Enhancement Grants they recently obtained through federal CARES Act appropriations to subsidize the expense and urging the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to extend temporary outdoor service permits indefinitely. If this industry is not going to be permitted to operate with increased capacity indoors this winter, this is a viable Plan B that will keep city storefronts viable and stave off permanent closure for many restaurants.”