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
No, I’m just cooking at home
No, I’m purchasing takeout, curbside pickup, and delivery only or otherwise cooking at home
Yes, but only outdoors on a patio, deck, or other al fresco space
Yes, I’m eating indoors and outdoors
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
Yes, but only in an outdoor seating area
Yes, I’m okay eating at a restaurant with people outside my household or pod regardless of whether we’re seated indoors or outdoors
No, when I dine out at a restaurant, I only do so with people in my household or pod
I’m not eating in restaurants at all right now with the exception of takeout, delivery, or curbside pickup
If you are willing to dine at restaurants in outdoor areas, will you continue to do so in the winter?
This poll is closed
Yes, I’m willing to dine in outdoor seating areas in the winter regardless of what the setup is
Yes, but only if it’s a large, open air space like a pavilion (possibly with heaters or blankets)
Yes, but only if there’s some sort of enclosed shelter for groups like a tent or plastic geodesic dome
No, I would prefer to eat in the restaurant dining room instead, if that’s an option
No, I will resume exclusively ordering takeout, delivery, or cooking at home
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
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