Restaurants Without Patios Adjust to Outdoor Dining Requirement
Outdoor dining at Minnesota restaurants is a novelty that many people enjoy. But when a restaurant isn’t normally set up to have outdoor seating, the experience is less than perfect. Just ask Jack Johnson, who visited Fat Nat’s Eggs in Brooklyn Park Wednesday morning.
“It’s not the ideal restaurant experience, but it’s a restaurant experience, I guess,” Johnson said. “Ambiance is what you’re going there for. You’re not going there to look at the side of a building.”
After two and a half months, Minnesota restaurants could officially welcome people back for on-site dining this week, provided that customers sit outside.
Fat Nat’s Eggs didn’t have an outdoor patio, so they had to improvise by putting tables on the sidewalk and parking lot with the city’s approval.
“We had to buy all extra tables, extra legs,” said Michael Nat, Fat Nat’s manager. “We had to rent tables and chairs. We had to buy special menus, which, it’s super expensive with the money we don’t have, and the money we can’t regenerate. So it’s just a big money pit.”
Nat says that since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the restaurant has lost about 90 percent of its sales. The new setup is a way to bring customers back, but the cost and limitations have him frustrated.
“It’s super expensive, and it’s not the way that it’s designed to run,” he said. “So efficiency has gone way down. We’re just trying our best to make our customers happy and keep them comfortable until we can open again.”
No Timetable Yet for Return of Indoor Dining
There’s no official timetable as to when the state will let restaurants offer indoor seating again. State officials argue that eating indoors would allow the novel coronavirus to spread more easily.
That said, Johnson, a customer from Brooklyn Park, would be willing to take the risk.
“I would,” Johnson said. “Again, you’d probably want [an] every other table type of scenario, but again, the tables would be sanitized. And right now we’ve got cottonwood floating around in here, so you’ve got to deal with that.”
It’s one of many issues that customers and staff members will have to tolerate until the governor issues another executive order to bring back indoor seating.
“So the sooner we get indoor seating, that’s the most important thing,” Nat said. “Even if you do 50 percent [of maximum customer capacity], anything is better than nothing when it’s indoors.”