Restaurants that expanded outdoor seating forced to adjust again as temperatures fall

Outdoor seating
Posted at 7:41 AM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-07 08:41:09-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Many mid-state restaurants that expanded their outdoor dining areas during the pandemic are now having to make changes again as the weather cools off.

East Nashville's Lockeland table was one of many Nashville restaurants who added outdoor seating in order to stay open while still following COVID-19 guidelines.

"The only way we could have stayed afloat is to maximize all of the outdoor capacity and outdoor space," Lockeland Table owner Cara Graham said. "Ultimately, it led to allowing us to have about 16 to 18 more seats outside."

Over the summer, Metro Council Members voted to make it easier for restaurants to add tables on sidewalks and in parking areas. Supporters said the bill was a way to help local businesses stay open through the pandemic. But now, with temperatures falling and fewer people wanting to sit outdoors, those businesses are trying to find ways to adjust once again.

"You have to adapt constantly, constantly, constantly," Graham said. She said for Lockeland Table, planning for the cold started when temperatures were still in the 90s.

"I started buying heaters probably in June, just to get ahead of the curve"," she explained. "From heaters, then it was blankets. Let's cozy it up as best as we can: hot toddies, soups, those sort of things are what we're transition into now."

Now she hopes as the temperatures fall, restaurant revenues don't fall with them.

"We're going to make it last as long as we can out here, because it we don't do this for the winter, who knows what happens in the spring."