“In Pittsburgh, people are resilient, which is a beautiful thing,” said restaurant owner Derek Burnell.
Burnell owns restaurants all over the country, including Pittsburgh, but said only Pittsburghers bring blankets and sit under a patio heater.
“In Miami, people would not stay outside when it’s 50 degrees, even with a heater,” said Burnell.
He owns Round Corner Cantina, Umami, and El Burro, among others. Sheets of acrylic, patio heaters and a huge tent fill the courtyard at Round Corner Cantina in Lawrenceville.
“The thing that’s keeping me up at night the most is winter. Winter is coming. This is going to be a scary situation for all of us.”
Burnell is one of the many restaurant owners not positively impacted by Governor Tom Wolf’s loosening of indoor dining restrictions Monday. Without enough indoor space to properly maintain social distancing, he calls people like Dan Skena for help.
“Well, basically, (people are asking) ‘How soon can you get a tent here?'” said Skena.
Skena is the president of Party Savvy, an event rental company in Monroeville.
“We’re actually pretty fully booked until the week of Oct. 20,” said Skena. “We’ve had to turn down a lot of work.”
Demand for tents, large tent heaters, patio heaters and chairs keep pouring in.
“A party that might have used 1,000 square feet of tenting is maybe now renting 4,000 square feet of tenting,” said Skena.
He’s receiving calls from hospitals looking to set up testing clinics, frantic brides moving receptions outdoors and school leaders looking to set up socially-distanced outdoor learning. Restaurant owners like Burnell say 50 percent indoor capacity is “not a profitable way to operate” and he’s “hoping for another stimulus bill.”
The governor’s office says we need to “balance economic recovery and public health.”