Some restaurant homeowners within the Pittsburgh space are serving al fresco eating amid a pandemic

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Given the colder weather, many restaurants in downtown Pittsburgh have chosen to cover outdoor areas for additional meals in order to meet state-mandated capacity requirements.

Some outdoor dining structures resemble mini greenhouses. Others look like plastic domes.

Bakersfield Pittsburgh has tents, heaters, and seating on Penn Avenue. At Bourbon & Bridges, two doors down, guests can dine in closed vinyl spaces with heating, upholstered chairs and tables. With Bluetooth speakers, guests can play their favorite music from their smartphone.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune review

Picnic tables are under tents and have heaters for al fresco dining in Bakersfield Pittsburgh in downtown Pittsburgh.

There are several covered outdoor dining areas in the market square, including the Original Oyster House, Las Velas, and Primanti Bros.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership expanded the outdoor seating a few months ago in Market Place, Sixth Street, Strawberry Way, and the 900 block on Penn Avenue. More than 30 restaurants took advantage of this.

When it comes to safety, says infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja that the structures can be safe if they are limited to individual, ventilated and often disinfected restaurants.

“As outdoor dining structures look more like indoor dining, their safety benefit diminishes,” said Adalja, a Pittsburgh-based senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

The PDP announced that any restaurant that requests reimbursement of recently purchased outdoor dining materials will be eligible for a grant of up to $ 3,000. The funds can be used for, but are not limited to, heaters, heated seat cushions / floor mats, tent structures, outdoor dining furniture, awnings, lighting, landscaping, barriers, electrical work, and disinfection stations.

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JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune review

Primanti Bros. in downtown Pittsburgh Market Place offers covered outdoor seating.

The PDP calls this a way to widen the window of business opportunity for restaurants hit by the covid pandemic when the weather begins to change

“We’re making the most of it,” said Gregory Huertas, regional managing partner of Bakersfield Pittsburgh and Eagle Food and Beer Hall, due to open on Penn Avenue. “Outdoor seating helps us because we have limited indoor space. We really need that extra seating and have found that outdoor eating slows down as the weather turns cooler. “

The tables are at least two meters apart.

Huertas said the business is struggling with fewer people coming downtown to work, affecting the lunchtime crowd, and entertainment in the evenings and weekends. The Cultural Trust does not present shows and sports are held with limited fans.

“The city is really trying to help us by putting up the Christmas trees and opening the crèche and the PPG rink,” he said.

As soon as he installed the domes, his phone rang, said Scott Shaffer, managing partner of Bridges & Bourbon.

The structures are 11 feet 9 inches wide and 7 feet 2 inches high. They have a footprint of 107 feet. Some can accommodate six people, others for eight people. He said they are only available upon reservation and a minimum of USD 200 for food and drink for a maximum of 2½ hours. They move reservations so the domes can be cleaned and disinfected.

Shaffer said he saw the domes in Chicago and New York. They are made by Gardenigloo USA.

“We have space outside to put them so we decided to do it,” he said. “We had to find out something. We cannot survive just eating indoors. “

In McCandless, the North Park Lounge has eight mini greenhouses set up for al fresco dining. They are heated, equipped with ventilation slots and offer space for up to four people. Workers disinfect each greenhouse after each use.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a contributor to the Tribune Review. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, jharrop@triblive.com, or on Twitter.

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