When the pandemic first struck Idaho, most restaurants shut down immediately. Some businesses modified their operations to open up their doors as soon as possible for many that entailed expanding patio services and outdoor seating.
In Downtown Boise, the city shut down a portion of 8th street so that restaurants could safely expand. Even restaurants that couldn’t do so found a way to get outside.
While some didn’t survive the sudden changes, many made it through the spring and summer months successfully. But, as temperatures begin to drop and seasons begin to change, restaurant owners once again have to accommodate elements beyond their control.
Tim Campbell, the Taphouse owner in Downtown, tells Idaho News 6 that the pandemic forced him to operate at 50% capacity. Unable to expand his patio due to location, unforgiving weather will be taking about a third of Tim’s business this weekend alone. With heaters on the way, Tim hopes he’ll be able to keep some outdoor seating open a little while longer; however, he says the heaters are not sustainable because, “once it gets cold enough there’s nothing you can do” adding, “that’s when it’s going to be a real struggle.”
A couple blocks down at Diablo and Sons Saloon on 8th street, the concern over cold weather operations are the same. Dave Krick, the managing partner at Diablo and Sons and Bittercreek Ale House, tells us that patios were a majority of their business all summer, and as they go away, they’re “nervous.”
The City of Boise did send a list of guidelines for business regarding colder weather operations last week. Krick says that fortunately, they have a structure to support tents they could use for a majority of their outdoor seating. But, putting tents up presents another set of challenges.
Krick tells us, “in essence, it becomes indoor space, and so the complications of indoor space during a pandemic now just expand for us to spread people out will give us some ability to form well enough to get through winter.”