Local restaurants try to extend outdoor dining in age of COVID-19

WWNY Local restaurants try to extend outdoor dining in age of COVID-19

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Keeping business steady and safe - that’s the challenge now for restaurants as we head into the colder months.

Food is served hot at Maggies on the River in Watertown, but outside, things are cooling down.

That means the outdoor dining the restaurant heavily relied on during the COVID-19 pandemic will be shut down for the season.

“For us, it makes quite a large difference just due to the fact that we do have 9 tables outside. Each can fit comfortably up to five people. Losing outdoor seating when the weather changes, that’s taking away 45 people at a maximum able to sit outside,” said Zha Zha Prieto, assistant manager.

At 50 percent capacity, the restaurant can hold 96 people in its downstairs dining room.

But when the outdoor seating is ready to close, they do have another option - an upstairs, usually reserved for events, that can seat up to 40 people.

“We do utilize the second floor whether it’s 4 or 5 guests. We usually try to save it for the larger groups, but we will most definitely take everyone in,” said Prieto.

Meanwhile, Wood Boat Brewery in Clayton is trying to extend outdoor dining for as long as possible with a canvas covering and heat lamps.

“Well, we’re doing our best to keep the heat on outdoors, basically heating the outdoors, and that’s all we really can do,” said owner Michael Hazlewood.

At 50 percent capacity, Wood Boat Brewery can only seat 30 people inside - making outdoor dining crucial for smaller restaurants.

“I’m going to do my best to keep it open as long as we can. We have to. We can’t operate on just 30 seats,” said Hazlewood.

Both Maggie’s on the River and Wood Boat Brewery have continued to offer takeout and delivery since the pandemic began. They will continue to do so if a second wave shuts down restaurants in the near future. But that’s something both are hoping it won’t come down to.

Copyright 2020 WWNY. All rights reserved.