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Michigan restaurants prepare for winter amid COVID-19 pandemic

Outdoor seating is on its way out as temperatures drop

DETROIT – Autumn is here and that means -- among other things -- winter is coming.

It may not feel like it, but Tuesday is the first day of fall. The coming colder temperatures could be tough on local restaurants who have relied on outdoor patio seating to survive the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Tuesday was the perfect day to dine out on a patio, days like these are numbered and eating outside soon won’t be comfortable.

Mudgie’s Deli and Bar opened in Corktown in 2008.

“That was the right at the beginning of the recession,” said owner Greg Mudge. “I learned a lot on how to be to adapt and to be lean.”

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Once again, Mudge is adapting for the pandemic. He’s building a walk-up carry-out window and expanding his outdoor seating.

Just down Porter Street, at Batch Brewing Company, they’re also adapting by transforming their parking lot into an outdoor biergarten.

“Giving up the lot was an easy decision,” said owner Stephen Roginson. “We needed to come up with something.”

Batch and Mudgie’s hope their customers take advantage of carry out and have a tolerance for cold temperatures.

“We’re gonna try to drag the patios out as long as we possibly can,” Mudge said.

“We just pulled a permit to run gas out here. We’re going to put a couple of tube heaters underneath it and then we’re going to particularly enclose it,” Roginson said. “There’s still going to be plenty of air circulation keeping people safe, but we’re going to shield people from harsh wind of winter and any blowing precipitation.”

Both owners are optimistic, but they’re going to need help from customers to keep them in business throughout the year.


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