SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News): This week, the City of Syracuse released an updated Winter Dining Guide for local restaurants and bars to continue serving customers safely as the temperature drops.
The guide released by Mayor Ben Walsh’s office outlines requirements for outdoor seating and provides protocol for patio heaters, seating, and vestibules. Deputy Commissioner of Business Development Eric Ennis said that the concept is mutually beneficial for both local business owners and consumers, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“It’s beneficial because we want businesses to offer more capacity and we also want people to be able to have a dining experience that they are safe and comfortable with,” he said.
Ennis added that the Syracuse business community has been largely supportive of the idea throughout its development.
The expansion into winter outdoor seating sounds like a paradox in a city with winter weather as brutal as Syracuse. But, the practice that arose last year from COVID-19 indoor capacity limits is likely to have lasting power.
“I think this something we’re continuing to explore year after year, and we want to make sure people are able to experience and embrace the winters that we have in Syracuse and make the best of them,” Ennis said.
Though the mayor’s office touts the opportunities that outdoor spaces provide, not everyone believes that the idea is practical. Margaritas Mexican Cantina owner and manager Alejandro Gonzalez says he is in support but that his restaurant will not be participating in the outdoor initiative,
“It’s something good, but it’s hard for people to sit outside when it’s snowing or it’s really cold outside,” Gonzalez said.
Additionally, Gonzalez discussed the challenges of hiring additional staff to work out in the cold, yet he agrees that business opportunities provided may be essential for some restaurants during the slow season.
The guide also provides that all cafe seating or enclosures must have the proper permits and documentation on file with the Department of Public Works and the Central Permit Office.