Downtown restaurants to bring in outdoor heaters as weather cools down

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The chill was in the air at Downtown Alive in Wilmington Friday night, but that didn’t stop people from coming out. City Council is voting Wednesday on whether to extend the event until the end of November.

As the weather cools down though, several restaurants are trying to improvise to keep their outdoor seating open.

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“We want to encourage people to sit outside,” Bourbon Street General Manager Matt McBride said. “It’s a lot safer. There’s a lot more room.”

McBride says they have loved the expanded outdoor seating over the last few months, and plan on keeping it open for as long as possible.

“I think it’s been a great opportunity to help people feel more safe going out to eat, as well as kind of providing a new atmosphere,” Circa 1922 General Manager Julia Ross said.

As the temperature dips down over the next few weeks, restaurants like Bourbon Street and Circa 1922 are trying to plan accordingly.

“We haven’t really hit that cold season yet where everyone’s going to be wanting to come inside,” McBride. “We actually have plans to buy some big heaters to put outside. we want to really encourage people to use the outdoor seating.”

McBride says they plan to have the heaters ready to go next weekend if they’re needed. Ross says they’ll also have heaters available by next week.

“Some nights, there’s not really much you can do when it gets into the 30s and 40s, but we can get outdoor space heaters, which we are going to be getting next week,” Ross said.

Several other restaurants downtown say they’re also going to be bringing in some outdoor heaters in the next few weeks.

“I think that makes it so much nicer to have those heaters out here, and be able to eat and just have fun with friends,” patron Talia Stier said.

City Council will vote Wednesday on whether to approve $5,6000 in funding to extended Downtown alive through November 22. It’s currently set to expire on November 8.

After that, the Downtown Business Alliance is working to potentially give restaurants the option to continue parklet dining on a long-term basis.

“We’re going to make the best of it,” McBride said. “We’re just happy to be open.”

Even as it cools down, restaurants plan on keeping outdoor dining set up as long as possible. Some patrons are just as excited to see it continue.

“I’ll absolutely keep coming out,” Stier said. “Absolutely. Even without heaters.”

The city says the Downtown Business Alliance also got a $1,300 donation to help fund the efforts with Downtown Alive.