IMAGE: Patio, outdoor seating, restaurant generic

Diamond Jim’s is creating good times during these hard times.

Despite limited capacity, the Midland restaurant and bar is staying afloat through the pandemic.

It’s thanks in part to the city closing the street to expand their outdoor seating.

“It’s helped tremendously because during phase 3 when you could only do takeout your sales dropped dramatically,” owner Marinell Schafer said. “This has been a savior for us.”

Luckily, it’s been nice enough to eat outside comfortably, but remember, it’s Michigan. It’s about to turn freezing fast.

It’s a cold hard reality for restaurants.

“When we have to pull up our patios, we’re limited capacity inside so yeah it’s a big worry,” Schafer said.

An ice-cold worry blowing across the state.

“We’re seeing somewhere between 4 and 5 thousand restaurants and hotel locations saying they don’t think they can make it through the next 6 months if policies stay the way they are,” said Justin Winslow, Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association.

He doesn’t want the hospitality industry left in the cold and is looking to bring policy changes like expanding indoor capacity.

“Can we get that to 75 percent? Or somewhere closer to a break even or dare I say profitable?” Winslow said.

Winterizing outdoor spaces is also an option.

Winslow says one of the struggles is it’s not clear what data and testing rates the state is waiting to see before making a move.

“What are those benchmarks? Is it a 3 percent positive test rate or lower?” he said. “We know 6 of the 8 regions average zero deaths per day from this disease. There’s still a risk, the disease isn’t gone, but the risk profile is a little different than it looked in the spring.”

Copyright 2020 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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