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Colder weather presenting new challenges for restaurants offering outside dining

Many restaurants are ordering outside heaters to winterize their new patio dining areas . (Photo: John Palminteri)
outdoor restaurant santa barbara
John Palminteri/KEYT
Many restaurants are ordering outside heaters to winterize their new patio dining areas . (Photo: John Palminteri)
Outside restaurant heaters
John Palminteri
Many restaurants are ordering outside heaters to winterize their new patio dining areas . (Photo: John Palminteri)
Outside dining changes
John Palminteri
Many restaurants are ordering outside heaters to winterize their new patio dining areas . (Photo: John Palminteri)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - If the very popular new outside dining options in Santa Barbara is to survive the cooler weather coming in, tent structures and heaters look to be mandatory.

Many businesses are hoping for a faster move inside with a drop from the red tier of Covid 19 restrictions to the orange tier with a greater permission for dining like we we used to before March of this year. Currently indoor seating for restaurants and places of worship is limited to 25 percent and not more than 100 people.

Going inside will provide protections and comfort from the elements for diners, servers and the food itself.

Without it, putting in outside heaters and covers will have to be the plan, and with it additional costs. Either way it's likely businesses will use the outside area as much as possible because of the economic boost it has provided them.


Santa Barbara Downtown Organization Director, Robin Elander says, "we need these tables because right now we don't have enough space inside due to the  public health guidelines. This allows us  to function and function pretty well."

The city, realizing the ever-changing conditions and no guarantee the Covid conditions will be less restrictive on any firm timeline, is helping out. "The city has developed winterizing guidelines," says Elander.

Many restaurant owners trying to buy new heaters say there's now a significant delay on getting them due to the demand across the country. Some sites say the delivery dates for an order today will be sometime in November.

"When Costco had them we went and got five of the last six  that they had in stock," said Draughtsman Aleworks owner Scott Stefan. He recalls the demand and the shortage for patio umbrellas when outside dining was first approved in May. This time he shopped ahead of time.

Another owner said he had to wait three weeks but wanted them now.

For Draughtsman, the outside tables are critical because it is in a small shred space in the 1100 block of State street with two other businesses.

"Anything greater than zero at this point is positive, we will take it," he said.  

Stefan says he is working with others on the block and collaborating where they can. "Just  walk up and down State street and see who is doing well in our opinion and who  needs a little help right now and see just what the  shakeout is."

Seeing the design changes and innovation during the summer was very impressive for Elander, and now she sees and hears more ideas moving forward. "The conversations of how people are mitigating the issues and how they are pivoting  and what they are building and how they are making their business still a viable business, is beyond incredible. It is   really special."

Watch tonight on KEYT NewsChannel 3, KCOY NewsChannel 12 and KKFX Fox 11 news

(more details, photos and video will be added here later today)

Business Matters / Economy / Lifestyle / Money and Business / Outdoors / Santa Barbara - South County / Weather News
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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and NewsChannel 12. To learn more about John, click here.

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