Tents and Heaters: Outdoor Seating at Restaurants


Sam’s of Gedney Way Instagram

The outdoor seating at Sam’s during the summer.

It’s snowing outside, but you’re safe inside a warm restaurant. Excited voices fill the air and you’ve just finished chowing down the best burger. While many of us can relate to this past reality, unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the restaurant scene has been drastically impacted. Executive Chef of the New York Hospitality Group, Robb Garceau, weighs in on how restaurants, particularly their outdoor seating, have been affected by COVID-19 and the cold temperatures and extreme weather of the winter season.

New York Hospitality Group owns several restaurants in and around the Westchester area, including Sam’s of Gedney Way in White Plains. Like so many other restaurants, Sam’s has had to adapt to meet the New York State COVID-19 restrictions, which is currently fifty percent capacity, including both indoor and outdoor seating. “We have enough square footage in our location to space everyone out,” said Garceau. While he is grateful that they have been able to adjust, many other restaurants do not share that same luxury. As for outdoor seating, the cold weather has certainly posed an issue. “We have a three-season room, which has a lot of fresh air flow … we purchased six propane heaters to allow people to sit outside,” remarked Garceau. Currently, they are not offering outdoor seating, other than their three-season room, due to the extreme cold. Garceau noted that he has seen many other restaurants around the area and in New York City with tents, heaters, and temporary structures to accommodate for outdoor seating during the winter season.

So many restaurants, including Sam’s of Gedney Way and other New York Hospitality Group restaurants, have seen a loss in revenue during the pandemic. “We’ve had to reduce the number of staff members in the kitchen because of the close quarters,” stated Garceau. “We’ve taken a significant financial hit”. Luckily, however, Sam’s has been able to stay open, and Garceau feels that “we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel”. “I think that people will be anxious to come out and support their local restaurants”, he said. Garceau is currently preparing for the spring season, where he expects to see guidelines become less restrictive, allowing more people to come out and enjoy good food at their local restaurants.