Restaurants around Buffalo and Western New York found a way to survive the pandemic so far with outdoor dining but now face another battle – the approaching Western New York winter.

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News 4 Buffalo (WIVB-TV) reports that during the summer, outdoor dining was definitely the way to go. But now as the colder months approach, restaurant owners are left wondering how to adapt while also making money under strict COVID-19 guidelines.

“Currently the restaurant industry is still limited to 50 percent of their indoor dining capacity,” explained Melissa Fleischut, President and CEO of the New York State Restaurant Association. “We’ve really been talking to the Governor and the State about increasing that limit as we head into the fall and winter, especially as the numbers look good and we have things under control.”

Tappo in Downtown Buffalo General Manager Amanda Wieszala says summer was better since they were able to easily accommodate people who wanted to dine outdoors.

For Winter Tappo got creative ...this will be the third year they will use “igloos” on their rooftop to seat guests outdoors while also keeping them out of the elements. The igloos will be available to reserve from November to April.

The restaurant is also renting part of the parking lot next door, to build a raised deck a temporary home to 10 greenhouses, another place guests can sit outside, yet still stay warm.

“We’re always looking for outdoor options; different ways to bring people in Buffalo a new experience.” Wieszala said.

Local lawmakers are working to make it easier for businesses struggling under COVID-19 regulations.  Common Councilman Joel Feroleto says this includes working on guidance on how restaurants can use outdoor heaters, as well as working with local authorities to secure spaces in front of the restaurant for take-out and curbside pick-up.

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