By Jon Delano

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — On a weekend night in Pittsburgh, the restaurants and bars are usually crazy with business, especially up on Mt. Washington with its spectacular views no matter the weather.

But with public officials sounding an alarm, it’s taking a toll.

“It scares people. They’re afraid to come out,” says Tony Fratangelo, the manager of LeMont Restaurant.

“Very detrimental to our business,” adds Joe Selvaggio, the manager of Vue 412.

So when public officials say words like this…

“Be very, very careful. Don’t go out tonight,” warned Guy Costa, Pittsburgh Chief of Operations, on Friday.

“Stay home. Stay anchored in your houses. Let our crews get to the streets unimpeded,” added Mike Gable, Pittsburgh Public Works director.

And when the news media warns of bad weather, the hospitality industry takes a hit.

“They frighten people. They scare people. They tell you don’t go out unless you absolutely have to. And if you can’t drive in two inches of snow in Pittsburgh, why are you living here?” asks Fratangelo, who says he understands why public safety officials say what they say. “They are erring on the side of caution, but again it affects us tremendously. It hurts us tremendously.”

Next door at the Vue 412, Selvaggio says they take a big hit but understand.

“It’s dangerous for people to be out there and the Public Works people to be on the road when there’s a lot of traffic,” he says.

At the LeMont already a party of 40 has cancelled for Friday evening.

But here’s the problem: staff still have to be called in because there is no way of knowing how many people will show up despite projected bad weather.

Chefs and kitchen staff were already at work mid-afternoon at the LeMont, where sixty reservations were still on for the evening.

As for the wait-staff, they must show up until it’s clear whether customers show.

“That’s our game,” Selvaggio told KDKA money editor Jon Delano. “We have to make sure we are ready for the customers when they come in the door.”

Only if the customers don’t show can the staff go home.

“They have to travel home and take the risk of coming home in the bad weather, correct,” notes Fratangelo.

Nobody is out to hurt the hospitality business during winter weather, but restaurateurs just wish everyone would keep things in perspective.

“It should be snowing in January in Pittsburgh,” says Fratangelo. “That’s not a news story.”

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