Can outdoor dining save restaurants?
As cities begin to open back up in the U.S., social distancing requirements remain in effect in hopes of preventing a rebound of COVID-19 infections. Some cities are dedicating full streets and sidewalks to enable extended outdoor restaurant seating, but more crowded metropolitan areas may run into trouble finding space for diners. One architect recently created an outdoor dining template for restaurants to make use of the limited street and sidewalk space in New York City.
David Rockwell, an architect who has designed prominent Las Vegas nightclubs and famous NYC restaurants, came up with a prototype for outdoor, socially distanced dining that can be easily and inexpensively implemented in a variety of outdoor urban settings, according to Bloomberg. The blueprint is adaptable to restaurants on corners, adjacent to bike lines and along parking lanes, and is meant to be easily scalable.
Some of the U.S. states hit hardest by coronavirus have slowly begun the reopening process after months of lockdown, and setting up dining exclusively outdoors is consistently a stipulation in state reopening plans. New Jersey, for instance, intends to begin allowing outdoor dining on June 15 as it enters the second phase of its reopening plan, according to CNBC.
The restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic. In March, when the pandemic first swept the U.S., restaurants were forced to go carry-out/pickup only, markedly reducing the amount of business they could conduct. In April, some were able to increase their offerings by selling groceries for pickup as the nation faced food shortages and supply chain breakdowns.
There has been speculation that many restaurants will not reopen after the end of the pandemic, and some restaurateurs have expressed concern that continuing social distancing restrictions will prevent them from making a profit if they do.
It is also not yet known if cities will require further lockdowns. Healthcare professionals have expressed worry that recent protests and riots sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minnesota police officer will unintentionally lead to spikes in COVID-19 infections.
- Famed Designer Draws Up Plan to Save Restaurants Through Outdoor Dining – Bloomberg
- New Jersey to open outdoor dining, retail shops on June 15 as tri-state region slowly eases restrictions – CNBC
- Will selling groceries help restaurants ride out COVID-19? – RetailWire
- Restaurant and bar owners say social distancing could wipe out their industry – CNN
- The protests are raising fears of a spike in coronavirus cases – CNN
- Open Streets Outdoor Dining Initiative – rockwellgroup
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see outdoor dining as a viable response to seating restrictions imposed on restaurants to maintain social distancing between patrons and staff? Will outdoor dining remain a prominent feature of restaurants after coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted?