When it rains, restaurants reliant on outdoor dining have no choice but to weather the storm

Business News

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Restaurants across Rhode Island have been offering outdoor seating for their guests due to the coronavirus pandemic. But what happens when it rains?

Brian Moy, owner of MidiCi in East Providence, tells Eyewitness News being allowed to have outdoor dining has been a godsend. But, due to the restrictions in place, he loses 40% of his overall capacity when he has to close his outdoor seating due to inclement weather.

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“Every day I look at the weather,” Moy said. “If it’s sunny, I know it’s going to be a really busy day given the capacity we have. If it’s rainy, it’s iffy.”

Moy said since he was allowed to reopen his indoor dining room during Phase 2 of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to reopen the economy, he still has customers dining inside on rainy days, but he’s noticed that many of his customers prefer outdoor dining during these uncertain times.

“They’re a little reluctant to come in, to dine inside,” he said. “They seem very comfortable outside.”

At The Patio on Main in East Greenwich, outdoor dining is the only option at the moment, since their dining room is smaller than most restaurants.

Owner Angel Winpenny said she doesn’t expect to reopen her dining room until at least the fall.

She said her outdoor seating is mostly under a tent, but when it rains and the winds pick up, her customers begin to clear out and she is once again left reliant on take-out orders.

“We’ve been experiencing one thing after another between COVID and the weather,” she said. “But, I would say we are fortunate things are going well, and we actually can’t wait for this weekend. It’s going to be great weather…With the upcoming weekend, we can make up for the loss.”

On Thursday, the Federal Hill Commerce Association announced its new initiative to allow restaurants to extend their dining rooms onto Atwells Avenue on certain days throughout the summer.

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