Samuel Aguirre, owner of Los Yaquis restaurant located on Folsom Street, poses for a portrait picture in San Francisco on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (Katherine Burgos / Golden Gate Xpress) (Katherine Burgos)
Samuel Aguirre, owner of Los Yaquis restaurant located on Folsom Street, poses for a portrait picture in San Francisco on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (Katherine Burgos / Golden Gate Xpress)

Katherine Burgos

Restaurants brace for poor weather conditions

October 14, 2020

With fire season a norm in California, resulting in poor air conditions across the Bay Area and forcing many indoors, restaurants are now questioning the future of their outdoor dining options. 

Responding to COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newson forced restaurants to shut down indoor and outdoor seating options in mid-March. State regulations allowed only delivery and pick-up options for customers, which also included curbside pick-up options. The beginning of July, after three months with no dining options, saw restaurants resume dining with outdoor seating options for guests.

With winter now steadily approaching, compounded with poor air quality, restaurants across California remain unsure about plans regarding the standard cold and rainy weather that draws nears, now coupled with the ever worsening air quality of raging wildfires.

Restaurants are still scrambling their plans together, with some having a set vision to maintain their outdoor seating options before the fall and winter weather conditions take place, while also still accommodating the pandemic imposed restrictions.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, an association for San Francisco restaurants, is still questioning the possibilities of what will happen when rain starts to fall. When asked what some of the plans for San Francisco restaurants are, Amy Cleary, the senior account director said, “[that’s] the exact question that many restaurants are asking themselves as of right now.”

Outdoor seating for Los Yaquis restaurant located on Folsom Street in San Francisco on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (Katherine Burgos / Golden Gate Xpress) (Katherine Burgos)

Samuel Aguirre, owner of  San Francisco-based restaurant Los Yaquis, is currently in the works of planning out what he will do with his restaurants when the seasons change.

Los Yaquis, which serves authentic Mexican food, never closed its doors to customers when shelter-in-place was put into effect. It quickly changed to to-go orders only, but Aguirre had to let go 80% of his staff to keep things operational. 

When businesses were able to operate with outdoor seating, Aguirre and his leftover staff quickly set up seating outside for customers to enjoy seating options. But when there’s cold weather, there is a decrease in customers, says Agurrie.

To combat the cold weather the Los Yaquis owner purchased outdoor heaters to keep customers warm. 

“San Francisco always has unpredictable weather, and that is the downside to outdoor seating. We purchased a few outdoor heaters to keep people a little warmer and so far it has helped,” Aguirre said.

Hopeful that indoor dining will be back into effect by the end of the year, Aguirre will go back to only taking to go orders again if the weather becomes rainy. Weeks prior, rain hit the city causing a delay on setting up the seating for the day.

So far the plan, if weather conditions become unbearable for outdoor seating, is for Los Yaquis to quickly pack up their outdoor seating option. 

“If there is unexpected rain, I think we will probably be scrambling trying to get things back inside,” he said. “I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it will be for customers who are eating at the moment.”

Restaurants in the Los Angeles area are also still pondering what will happen to their outdoor seating. Huckleberry Café, located in Santa Monica, known for their pastries, stated that they are not ready to talk about any potential plans regarding their outdoor seating.

The café’s director of communications, Elise Freimuth, gave a statement saying, “We’re actually still trying to figure out what we’re going to be doing for outdoor dining in the fall and winter,” she said, “hopefully we will be receiving some direction soon from the mayor, governor, or LA County Department of Public Health.”

“The best thing we can do is be aware of what the weather is supposed to be like, and if rain is in the forecast, it will be best to not put out tables,” Aguirre said.

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