Restaurant owners seeing empty outdoor tables as Fresno temperatures reach triple digits

Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered counties experiencing spikes in coronavirus to close their indoor dining services.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It was over 100 degrees as people sit outside of Vino Grill and Spirits in Northeast Fresno.

For those dining there, it took more than blistering heat to get in the way of enjoying their meal.

At restaurant Heirloom, most of their outdoor seating was taken.

Still, the owner of Vino, Chuck Van Fleet, says the intense heat is keeping people away.

"It has impacted us a lot," he said. "We normally have a brunch that starts at 10 a.m. but we didn't have any reservations until 3 p.m., so we didn't even bother to open up."

At the beginning of this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered counties experiencing spikes in coronavirus to close their indoor dining services.

The order is expected to last three weeks, but that could change.

"A reassessment will be done, I think, after that three weeks ends to see how things are going in terms of the numbers here in our county and across the state," says Dr. Rais Vohra with the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

With triple-digit temperatures lasting for at least the next week, many restaurant owners have made some upgrades to their patios.

All of Van Fleet's tables are shaded. He also has a mister and is looking to add another.

Meanwhile, his air-conditioned dining room, which seats 200, sits empty.

Because of the hot conditions, he says most customers prefer to come out closer to sunset

But what's hurting him even more than the heat are dining cancellations, which will leave a table empty for almost two hours.

"That means two table turns, which is roughly $500," he said. "Plus I'm paying a server to stand around and look at an empty table."

Van Fleet is now looking at extending after sundown to serve more people and make up for losses.

He's also bracing himself in case the governor's order is extended.
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