Fall River to distribute space heaters to local restaurants to extend outdoor dining

SE Mass

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — The city of Fall River has purchased approximately 30 heaters for restaurants in an effort to extend outdoor dining into the colder months.

National shortages and backorders for the heaters delayed their arrival, according to city officials, but they are now assembled and ready to be distributed. The space heaters will be rented to restaurants on a first come, first serve basis at no cost to the businesses.

Liz Carpenter, owner of Faneek’s, tells 12 News working through the coronavirus pandemic has been far from easy, adding that 2020 has been the year of “crisis management.”

“It is pushing all of us small business owners to a point where we have to think out side of the box, and we have to rely on ourselves to trust ourselves and really there are no answers from anybody,” she said. 

Carpenter said in many cases, she has found herself asking questions, but feels like there is no clear solution. She said right now, she is trying to not only operate as safely as possible, but survive as a business.

“There was uncertainty back in March because you didn’t know how long this was going to last,” she said. “Now there is uncertainty because you don’t know if it will ever go away.”

That’s why she said as soon as she heard the city would be distributing space heaters, she reserved two of them for her outdoor dining area.

“The only thing we have to do is maintain them and purchase the propane to keep them running,” Carpenter explained, adding that the city is allowing them to keep the heaters for “as long as they need them.”

Carpenter said she has relied on outdoor dining for the majority of her business, since there’s more than double the seating outdoors than what she can offer inside.

“We were at this crossroads, like, do we invest in the heaters? If we do, are we actually going to benefit from that or do we just suck it up and see how it goes?” she explained. “This kind of was a gift, it was almost like a magical thing that happened on Friday the 13th.”

Even on cold days, Carpenter said her loyal customers often eat outside or in their vehicles.

She said she’s hopeful the heaters will encourage people to enjoy a night out, while knowing they are safe.

To Carpenter, the well-being of her customers is her number one priority. 

“That’s what business is all about,” she said, “We wouldn’t exist without our communities, so how can we not care about our communities? On top of that, this is basically my second home.” 

Any restaurant that is looking to reserve a heater should contact Director of Facilities Maintenance Chris Gallagher by phone at (508) 922-6715 or (508) 324-2226.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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