Restaurants adapt to recent guidelines by building outdoor patios

SPOKANE, Wash. — New regulations are freezing out some restaurants. 

With a cold Northwest winter approaching, it’s going to take some creativity to keep customers coming back. 

Restaurants are hoping outdoor tents and igloos will help. 

When Governor Jay Inslee announced new restrictions, he banned restaurants from offering dine-in services. 

I think about it a lot like a boxing match, you just keep trying to get back on your feet and then you get hit again,” said Michael Wiley, owner of Prohibition Gastropub. 

He’s trying to adapt quickly. Prohibition Gastropub already had a metal structure, and a top. Wiley compared it to looking like a car port. While that was already in place, he put up some fire retardant plywood around to block the wind. 

But with enclosures comes the question: Is it safer than eating indoors? 

When the governor’s office laid out specific guidelines for restaurants and outdoor dining, one key component was good airflow. 

READ: Gov. Inslee announces new statewide restrictions on dining, gatherings as COVID-19 cases surge 

“We’ve got wings open on the back side of the patio which allows air to come in,” said Wiley. “We only built the wall up to this far away from the top so the air can hit and roll up over the outside and then we left the entire back end of the patio open so it can just shoot right on out.” 

Then, there’s the concern of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Spokane Fire Marshall Lance Dahl says there are specific electric heat sources restaurants are allowed to use. 

“What we have allowed is electric heat sources as long as they follow all the manufacturers recommendations,” he said.

Restaurants with canopies and tents are not allowed to have open flames underneath them, and all must have another exit in case of emergency. The Fire Department is also required to do regular safety inspections. 

With all his hard work, Wiley hopes it’ll help him fight his way to the top.

“Stay positive, stay focused, think on your feet,” he said.