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The pandemic: Outdoor dining gets 'ready for winter'

Eating outdoors during winter creates challenges
Posted at 11:30 PM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 23:30:46-05

INDIANAPOLIS — When its 70 degrees outside it's not a bad night to sit outside and enjoy a drink and a meal. But as winter gets closer, business owners aren't sure eating outside is a feasible plan to survive winter in a pandemic.

"If every day could be like today, and what this weekend is supposed to look like that would be great," said Jason Mugg.

But year-round summer temperatures are not likely in Indiana. So, business owners like Jason Mugg of Nine Irish Brothers are trying to plan for outdoor dining in cold temperatures.

"It's a lot of thinking into what could happen. What customers are going to want. Are they going to want to sit inside a tent with the big heaters and all that stuff or are they going to want to be able to come out enjoy themselves just like they would inside, but at a safer place outside," said Mugg.

Tents and heaters could soon be the latest fixture in areas like Mass Avenue, thanks to a $1 million "Ready for Winter" grant from the City of Indianapolis which will allow Marion County bars, restaurants, and live event venues to purchase equipment to keep diners warm along with tables, chairs, and PPE.

"That definitely helps out if we're going to be doing the outdoor dining," said Mugg.

Mug says while sitting in a tent doesn't automatically erase the threat of coronavirus, it does create more space for customers to spread out, while using the existing building and outdoor space. He says in this unpredictable year it's an idea he's willing to try.

"I mean I will definitely apply for it, just so I'm definitely able to have it in the works, of hey, if it's going to work for us, or to know if I can do. I want to be able to have that option, I don't just want to say no to it," said Mugg.

The "Ready for Winter" comes from the city's share of federal CARES Act money. The grant is available on a first come, first serve basis to Marion county establishments until November 20th, 2020.