The New York Times, Idea of the Day: SAVING RESTAURANTS

Image: Cafe Du Soleil in Manhattan hopes its plastic bubbles will warm up diners as temperatures get colder. Kevin Hagen for The New York Times

The New York Times “The Morning” email daily newsletter today had a great ‘Idea of the Day’ that could absolutely be applied to winery tasting rooms. Some great ideas here:

By David Leonhardt

Nearly one in six restaurants in the U.S. have closed since the pandemic began, according to a recent survey. And the coming winter will bring many more closures, as cold weather makes outdoor dining difficult. What can restaurants do to survive?

Stay warm: Sales of propane heaters and patio fire pits are soaring, as restaurants take steps to keep open their outdoor areas. Streamlining permit processes for outdoor dining areas could also be beneficial.

Clean the air: Restaurants are risky because people spend an extended period of time in one room, typically without wearing a mask. To reduce the risk of virus transmission through the air, some restaurants are upgrading their air-filtration systems or installing movable partitions between tables to trap virus particles. In New York, Grub Street reports that some restaurants are already having trouble procuring the proper filters, because they are selling out.

Diversify: Some restaurants have tried to find other ways to make money. Among the ideas: selling family-size takeout meals; converting part of a restaurant into a gourmet grocer; and creating a “ghost kitchen,” a restaurant within the restaurant that serves a new menu of takeout food, The Washington Post reports.

Ask for money: Of course, these upgrades cost money — at the same time that restaurant revenue is down. That’s why many restaurant owners are hoping for government help. A $4 million grant program in Charlotte, N.C., will help local restaurants, bars, food trucks and caterers, The Charlotte Observer reports. And in Congress, House Democrats have proposed a $2.2 trillion relief bill that includes $120 billion for restaurants.