PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh-area restaurants fear winter weather and rising coronavirus cases could be a recipe for disaster.
Area restaurants that have already been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic face two big fears. First, restaurants are closing outdoor dining due to colder weather. Secondly, restaurants fear the recent surge of cases could prompt the state to bring about closures.
For nearly 40 years, cops, journalists, politicians, pro athletes and North Siders have enjoyed the Allegheny Sandwich Shoppe on the North Side. But not so much this year.
“We’ve opened and closed three times,” said Allegheny Sandwich Shoppe owner Nick Mastros. “We were collectively closed for three months.”
Mastros was forced to close another sandwich shop he owned downtown. Outdoor dining has kept the North Side location hanging on but who knows for how much longer.
“With cooler weather and cases going up, consumer confidence is starting to come back down again,” said Mastros. “Our industry is in peril.”
The problem is compounded for restaurant chains like Atrias. It’s been a great summer for outdoor dining, but owner Pat McDonnell sees a darker winter.
“Today’s a nice day. We have some people sitting on the patio. But this is it. We had a decent week with outdoor, but as we all know, it’s mid-November. It’s done,” McDonnell said
It is estimated that the pandemic has forced about 30 percent of Pittsburgh-area restaurants to close for good. Now, winter weather and another possible shutdown from a coronavirus spike could mean others will be forced out of business.
“If there is another shutdown, they’re going to put a lot of us out of business,” McDonnell said.
It is not just restaurant owners who are paying the price. Restaurant employees have been hit hard, too.
The hope is that new leadership in Washington, D.C. will mean another stimulus package and a national policy to control the virus.