As a way to help area restaurateurs get through tough(er) times this fall and winter, Delaware District Councilmember Joel Feroleto has proposed a resolution that would allow dining establishments to use outdoor heaters. This would allow the restaurants to continue to seat people outside, who might not want to take the risk of eating inside due to COVID-19.
The New York Restaurant Association predicts that one out of every five restaurants in the State will close due to the pandemic. Those are sobering numbers considering that so many people rely upon the restaurant industry for their livelihoods, not to mention the trickle down economy that will also be impacted.
“We need to assist restaurants and do everything we can to give them a shot of surviving the pandemic,” said Feroleto, who was also also a proponent of Reopen Buffalo (the timely and critical patio expansion initiative). “Propane heaters are not permitted in Buffalo but we’ve just seen NYC do a 180 and allow them on sidewalks for dining, they were previously prohibited. Restaurants employ thousands of buffalo residents and support many other local vendors.”
“This will help some restaurants survive the pandemic,” agreed developer and restaurateur Rocco Termini.
“At a time when the restaurant business is struggling to keep their doors open, it would be nice if the City would help us by eliminating this policy,” said restaurateur Jay McCarthy, co-owner of The Place Restaurant.
Moving forward Feroleto is requesting that the City of Buffalo’s Department of Permits and Inspections “help with a smooth transition to maintain outdoor operation.” Feroleto asks that the Department issues guidance on the resolution prior to October 6.
If all goes according to Feroleto’s forward-thinking plan, Buffalo would follow in the footsteps of international cities such as Toronto that have already gone down this road. The only other issue at hand is successfully sourcing the heaters, according to McCarthy, who told me that everyone is now scrambling to get the heaters, making them impossible to find.
“The next step will be finding outdoor heaters now that it’s fall and most places are out of stock.”