US Restaurants Face Uncertain Winter Amid Pandemic

As the coronavirus surges in the United States, restaurants across the country are bracing for both more restrictions and the coming danger of more infections.

The Wall Street Journal reports that New York City restaurant owners are “beleaguered” and hoping that their businesses won’t be affected by future government-related shutdowns as the winter rolls on.

To cope, many have set about buying propane and electric heaters to make it more comfortable for people to sit outside in colder weather, while others have enhanced delivery features and indoor ventilation systems. It’s all piled onto the costs, which have been a chokehold on businesses that are already struggling to pay rent and are worried about more shutdowns.

In Chicago, numerous restaurants are offering takeout Thanksgiving dinners, as officials warn against the dangers of dining in-person due to the pandemic.

And in Quincy, Massachusetts, The Pour Yard has debuted an “igloo” concept to help protect guests from the cold weather and also keep them socially distant.

The holiday season is sure to be uncertain due to the colder weather and not knowing how consumers will react to the changed conditions of life.

Grubhub and the Restaurant Strong Fund are aiming to help with $2 million grants for independent restaurants through the winter, according to a report from Restaurant Business Online. The funds, distributed through the Restaurant Winterization Grant, will be available through Nov. 21 to restaurants in Chicago, New York City, Boston and Philadelphia with five or fewer locations.

Also looking to help are American Express and its subsidiary, Resy, who are partnering with a handful of restaurants nationwide on new at-home and outdoor dining options this weekend. They will offer benefits like outdoor yurts or tents where diners can sit isolated from others, along with heated and custom-designed patios for four to six customers and at-home options for delivered meals and sweets that can be purchased on Resy’s website.

The Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) is working with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) on $3 million in grants to help businesses expand outdoor dining this winter, aiming to keep capacity at healthy yet safe levels.