During the pandemic, outside dining spaces have become a safer way to share a meal, but this option won't be comfortable much longer with winter creeping in.
Aimee Hoecker, co-owner of Downtown Drafts in Gainesville, said she expects the dropping temperatures to have a negative effect on her beer and wine business.
“We’re already trying to prepare for the winter,” she said. “We’ve been trying to save up.”
With less indoor seating to limit the spread of COVID-19, many customers have chosen to drink outside. If the weather is nice, Hoecker said the patio fills up with people, helping her business.
“We’re looking into heating options,” she said. “We’ll have to hunker down because it’s probably going to be a tough winter.”
Cara Ansley, manager of Local Station in Braselton, said she anticipates this winter to have the same effect as previous winters.
Local Station has 10 tables on its patio, 12 inside and a bar. Even though customers don't typically use the restaurant’s outdoor seating in the winter, Ansley said she isn’t worried.
“We’ve been lucky throughout the pandemic,” she said. “It’s obviously going to slow down a little bit. With holidays we get a lot of large parties, so it evens out.”
Tina Roberts, co-owner of 2 Dog in Gainesville, said her customers will eat at her restaurant regardless of seating space during the winter. If the indoor area is full, she said they will most likely grab their meals to-go instead.
“They’re just the best,” Roberts said. “I don’t think much is going to change. I think the restaurant industry in general has done a big shift. COVID has shown people a different way to dine.”
Roberts said takeout orders encompass 40% of 2 Dog’s business, and catering equates to around 15%. Before the pandemic, she said 5% of sales came from takeout.
For now, Roberts said she is embracing whatever change comes her way alongside her husband and co-owner, Tim.
“We’re at 23 years now (in business), and I think Tim and I are ready for something new,” she said. “We’ll see what happens in 2021.”