Home Food & Beverage Not All Outdoor Dining Is Created Equal

Not All Outdoor Dining Is Created Equal

by joeheg

Living in Orlando, we’ve been quite fortunate when it comes to finding places to eat. Many locations have added outdoor seating, the only type of dining arrangement we’re willing to accept at the moment. Besides that, we’re still cooking at home and occasionally getting take-out meals.

So when we traveled north on our road trip to Georgia, North Carolina and Tennesee where autumn was fully in effect and temperatures were dropping, it became harder to find places with truly outdoor dining.

Sure, we were still able to use Yelp to search for places with outdoor dining, but the definition of that term is up for debate and just because a place says they have outdoor seating doesn’t mean they’re actually using it.

There are the different examples out “outdoor dining” that we encountered:

Enclosed Outside

A popular design trend for new restaurants is to have garage-style doors. When the weather is cooperative, they’ll open the doors and let people enjoy the weather outside. When it gets cold or rainy, the doors come down and the outdoor dining area is no longer outside. Strike One.

Outdoor Structure That Might As Well Be Inside

Some restaurants have taken to erecting outdoor tents for seating. I guess they don’t understand why outdoor dining is preferable to eating inside. When people are sitting without masks for over an hour, having the breeze to circulate the air decreases the chance of viral transmission. Putting everyone outside in a tent with less air circulation than they’ll have inside defeats the purpose. Strike Two.

Enclosed Patios

This seating arrangement can be acceptable if they’re allowing air to flow through the area. If all the areas are closed, then you might as well be inside. We did eat at a restaurant where we would have been on the patio if not for the cold weather. We felt a breeze coming through the tent’s cracks for the duration of the meal which was counteracted by the space heaters they had scattered around the area. This was the closest we’ve been to inside dining since March.

Heated Patios

This is ideally what you want to find. An open porch with space heaters. This area is outdoors but comfortable regardless of the weather. Fortunately, we found two of these locations during our trip. The rest of our meals wound up being take-out events in our cabin/hotel room, which honestly were better than we expected.

While all of these are considered outdoor dining, some are acceptable to those being cautious and others don’t meet the criteria of being outdoors. Finding places that met our requirements took some reconnaissance scoping out the possible locations and eliminating faux-outdoor places.

In order to travel in the time of coronavirus, we all have to make decisions about what activities we’re willing to take part in. For us, we’re not willing to eat inside at a restaurant. Having the option to eat outdoors and not having to spend every evening eating take-out in our room makes the idea of hitting the road a little more appealing than it would be otherwise.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

derek November 25, 2020 - 6:29 pm

Current recommendations are for family members who have Covid-19 to use a separate bathroom (if available) and not prepare food. If one has the flu (influenza), it is also not recommended that food be handled by that person. For this reason, while take out food is not as hazardous as some with Covid-19 singing in your face, I don’t like the idea of restaurant take out food. I know, if everyone followed me, that industry would disappear in bankruptcy. However, if everyone acted like me starting from tomorrow, Covid-19 would end in America before Christmas.


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