NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — With temperatures dropping and indoor seating limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants are getting creative with their outdoor spaces to appeal to customers.
COVID-19 cases recently hit an all time one day record high in North Carolina at more than 11,500. With this latest spike, some diners aren’t comfortable with sitting inside restaurants.
“As soon as we figured out that we could sit outside, we requested to sit outside,” said diner Jeremy Lynch.
As temperatures drop, that outdoor experience loses its luster. That’s why many restaurants across the Cape Fear, like South Beach Grill in Wrightsville Beach, are adding heaters.
“We had heaters to begin with but we did purchase some additional heaters to get better coverage,” said owner John Andrews. “As we space all the tables out, we’ve got to heat more people and more square footage.”
Brasserie du Soleil is another restaurant that relies on its outdoor space.
“When we have use of the patio, it doubles our seating capacity,” said general manager Steve Conroy.
Conroy says although they have a few heaters they’d like to add more, but they’re sold out just about everywhere.
“It’s been very difficult, I think the last time I was able to buy some I think it was early November,” he said. “Pretty much anywhere you find them if they get a couple in they’re gone within a few minutes.”
Both Conroy and Andrews say they’re hopeful customers will feel more comfortable coming back as the vaccine rollout continues.
“It’s really encouraged me that we may turn the corner on this particular time frame and move forward getting back to normal,” Andrews said.
In the meantime, customers seem to appreciate the added creature comforts outdoors.
“Getting heaters and everything that you can to get a little bit more comradery outside is a great idea,” Lynch said.
Andrews adds that without many tourists visiting, this is the time of year that area restaurants rely on business from locals.
The StarNews recently put together a list of restaurants with outdoor seating.