Back to outdoor dining: How Fresno restaurants are adapting to the pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For almost a year now, Lily's Cafe in downtown Fresno has survived on to-go orders and some outdoor dining - when allowed.

Business was steady before the pandemic hit, but now they're scraping by.

Officials with the Downtown Fresno Partnership say this has been the reality for many business owners.

"We heard from all the businesses, they are all struggling (so much) that a lot of them had to lay people off or cut hours for folks," says Jimmy Cerracchio, the president and CEO of Downtown Fresno Partnership.

With the regional stay-at-home order lifted, restaurants can once again serve customers outside.

Jose Ramirez's family owns Lily's Cafe. He says the cold and rainy weather have people thinking twice before dining.

To entice customers they started offering free delivery in downtown on orders of at least $25.

"It is going to be hard for now, but we are just going to get right back up and get to it," says Ramirez.

Rooftop bar Quail State is also getting creative.

Owners Josh and Hayley Islas-Wolf opened during the pandemic and had to alter their entire business plan.

"Quail State never set out to open up a bottle shop, we never intended to be a takeout service. We never intended to be a restaurant to start off," says Josh.

They're now offering full course meals on Fulton Street.

To make it work, they're renting La Boulangerie's patio space by night and using the kitchen across the street at La Cocina De Mama.

The owners say more than 300 people were served this weekend.

"As soon as it is safe to do so we want to be able to open up the rooftop and the inside of our bar, but it has been really exciting to be able to open up finally to the public," says Hayley Islas-Wolf.

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Quail State and Lily's Cafe are hoping to see a boost in business.

For hours at Quail State and to make a reservation, click here.
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