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Detroit: Will You Dine Outdoors This Winter?

Do you prefer to be seated on a patio even during cold weather? Share your thoughts in this latest poll

People stand inside a plastic geodesic dome installed along the Woodward Esplanade for Detroit’s holiday market at sunset.
Plastic geodesic domes like the one seen here, are part of a strategy for many metro Detroit restaurants trying to maintain comfortable outdoor spaces in the winter.
Stock Detroit
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Restaurants have been all about the “pivot” during this pandemic, adjusting their hours, changing their service formats, and reinventing their outdoors spaces and procedures to fit new safety protocols. But the year isn’t over yet, and the next six months of colder weather will likely make or break many local establishments.

In a survey conducted by Eater Detroit this spring, we asked readers whether or not they planned to eat out with people who resided outside of their household when dine-in service resumed. A majority of respondents — 65.9 percent — said they would be willing to eat out when it was legal to do so with people outside of their household. However, when asked where they would be comfortable sitting, an overwhelming 86.8 percent of people surveyed expressed a preference for outdoor seating.

Since then, restaurants have in many cases reopened for indoor service. Some have even focused exclusively patio service, because experts consider it to be a safer option than indoor dining. State and local ordinances have also made it possible for some establishments to expanded patio seating and reclaim some of the seats they lost in their dining rooms through capacity limits. But now that summer is officially over, many restaurants and bars across the region are preparing for changing weather and the possibility that customers will once again change their dining behaviors.

The large preference among customers for outdoor dining this summer, in particular, raises questions about how restaurants could be impacted by shifts in seating preferences as the weather changes and temperatures drop.

Are customers going to be more willing to dine indoors now that the weather is changing, or is patio seating still preferred? Likewise, what kind of outdoor seating format are patrons comfortable with? Will customers who prefer outdoor seating welcome plastic geodesic domes and tents as an outdoor option, or will they take a break from in-person service and resume ordering takeout and delivery during the cold weather months?

Help Eater learn more about how customers are feeling about dine-in service during the pandemic by taking the polls below. They close at 11:59 p.m. EST on Thursday, October 8.

Editor’s Note: These polls have trouble showing up via Google Amp and Apple News links, so pop over to our homepage if you’re struggling to take part.


Do you feel safe dining at restaurants right now?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    No, I’m just cooking at home
    (17 votes)
  • 24%
    No, I’m purchasing takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery only or otherwise cooking at home
    (144 votes)
  • 47%
    Yes, but only outdoors on a patio, deck, or other al fresco space
    (283 votes)
  • 25%
    Yes, I’m eating indoors and outdoors
    (151 votes)
595 votes total Vote Now


If you are dining out, are you willing to do so with friends or family who are not part of your household or pod?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Yes, but only in an outdoor seating area
    (178 votes)
  • 20%
    Yes, I’m okay eating at a restaurant with people outside my household or pod regardless of whether we’re seated indoors or outdoors
    (95 votes)
  • 23%
    No, when I dine out at a restaurant, I only do so with people in my household or pod
    (108 votes)
  • 17%
    I’m not eating in restaurants at all right now with the exception of takeout, delivery, or curbside pickup
    (81 votes)
462 votes total Vote Now


If you are willing to dine at restaurants in outdoor areas, will you continue to do so in the winter?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Yes, I’m willing to dine in outdoor seating areas in the winter regardless of what the setup is
    (58 votes)
  • 32%
    Yes, but only if it’s a large, open air space like a pavilion (possibly with heaters or blankets)
    (150 votes)
  • 18%
    Yes, but only if there’s some sort of enclosed shelter for groups like a tent or plastic geodesic dome
    (85 votes)
  • 9%
    No, I would prefer to eat in the restaurant dining room instead, if that’s an option
    (43 votes)
  • 13%
    No, I will resume exclusively ordering takeout, delivery, or cooking at home
    (61 votes)
  • 13%
    I’m not eating in restaurants at all right now with the exception of takeout, delivery, or curbside pickup and will continue to do so through the winter
    (63 votes)
460 votes total Vote Now

How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Detroit Food and Beverage Industry [ED]
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