Restaurant Owners Concerned About Al Fresco Dining as Temperatures Drop

NBC Universal, Inc.

Fall is around the corner, and as temperatures drop and sweater weather approaches, restaurant owners are concerned the weather will harm their already slower-than-usual business in the middle of the pandemic.

Many Bay Area restaurant owners are scrambling to make sure they can continue to serve their customers outside, even when the temperatures drop and its pouring rain.

To do so, restaurateurs are resorting to outside heat lamps and fire pits.

Eric Zhang, owner of Modern China Cafe in Walnut Creek says he can't rely on sunny skies forever.

"Everybody's worried about the winter, our rainy season," he said. "How can we do it? How can we survive?"

Eric Kahn, the owner of Al Fresco Heating, a heating equipment supplier in Novato, says propane heaters are flying off the shelves because they’re portable and they don’t need to be plugged in.

Outdoor heaters range from $500 to $1500 each.

"I know that a lot of businesses are suffering right now and we’re in a situation where we have unprecedented demand and I feel very fortunate" Kahn said.

However, a heat lamp or gas heater may not be enough to convince people to eat out in the cold weather.

"I might have coffee or a glass of wine I’m not so sure that I would dine, I don’t like cold food," said Walnut Creek resident Darlene Connors.

Counties like Marin, Novato and Santa Cruz are allowing limited indoor dining, but the East Bay is not there yet and restaurant owners are worried.

"I talk to my friends that own restaurants, everybody's worried about that," said Zhang, "no good solution because if the rainy season – nobody can sit outside."

Contact Us