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Restaurants prepare to pivot dining options as cold weather settles in

A slide back to the purple-tier would take dine-in off the table and rain could wash away options for most.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The restaurant industry has taken a hit and those still weathering the pandemic are again preparing to pivot as cold weather and rain move into the region.

At Cafe Bernando on Sacramento's historic R Street, general manager, Jen Lewis follows two forecasts: one for the weather and the other for the county's pandemic tier status. 

"That is probably one of our main concerns right now," she said. 

Under the red tier, in-door dining is capped at 25%. If a county slides back to the purple tier, dining in is off the table but Lewis is staying optimistic. 

Like other restaurants, her team has invested in space heaters and side-panels on tents. Business, she said, has been holding steady even during the pandemic. 

"It should be interesting once rain happens because this is our only covered area right here," Lewis said. 

At East Sacramento's Canon, staff said a remodel before the pandemic hit may be their saving grace. It has constructed an outdoor space that keeps guests covered from rain, but lets air flow through. The design, they said, could be a model in the new age food service and fine dining. 

"People are definitely going to be thinking more about the outdoor spaces, especially places that are opening up. It's very important at guests have a comfortable outdoor dining area," said Canon East Sacramento's general manager, Jack Winks.

For the vast majority of restaurants that have adapted to outdoor dining options, rain may wash out covered options.

"Not everyone's gonna have that option," said Chris Tucker of Midtown's Hook and Ladder. "I think a lot of Sacramento is gonna be in the same boat when it does start to rain. There's gonna be a lot fewer options for people to be able to dine out. I think you're gonna see a lot more takeout and delivery."

Tucker said his team is looking expand its awning outdoors and they're even considering guest time limits. 

"Hopefully the community adapts with us as well to keep the small businesses going through these cold, rainy months," he said.


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