Outdoor dining boosts KCMO restaurants during pandemic

Restaurants hope practice continues in cold months
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Posted at 5:54 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 18:54:43-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Amid a global pandemic that has closed many local restaurants and left more struggling to survive, the great outdoors may be the answer.

In Kansas City, Missouri, an ordinance enacted during the summer created a way to allow for physical distancing while serving customers.

"For us, we didn’t want to reopen until we knew that we would do the outdoor seating," said Zach Williams, general manager at Julep.

Williams said moving their tables outside into the street kept them in business.

"It’s been great for us to have the opportunity," Willams said. "It’s great for our staff because they are able to work and feel safe and they’ve stayed safe and they haven’t had any issues."

Trezo Mare in the Northland already had outdoor seating prior to the pandemic but because of the demand will soon extend their patio seating to the street.

"People want to eat outside. They’re much more comfortable eating outside," said Mike Lee, owner and operator of Trezo Mare.

Lee told 41 Action News about 90% of his customers prefer to eat outdoors.

It's also a safer bet, according to doctors.

"That’s the advantage of dining outdoors — so that you do have more consistent airflow, so that airflow within an indoor setting might be variable between different establishments," said Dr. Mark Steele, executive chief medical officer at Truman Medical Center.

KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas would like to the option continue well beyond the pandemic.

"We have seen wonderful results for Kansas City businesses. Many have been able to stay open, many have been able to bring on their staff that have been terminated or at least laid off for a while before and we hope to keep this even after our state of emergency is over," Lucas said.

As the weather changes, restaurants are adjusting to still allow outdoor dining in the cold.

"We’ve ordered the heaters for the patio. Apparently a lot of people have — they’re taking a little while to get in," Williams said.

Trezo Mare may be a little ahead of the curve.

"I’ve already brought in more heating. We’ve got 18 heaters in right now," Lee said.

These businesses are turning an obstacle into an opportunity.

"To have a patio connected to your business, I have noticed in this city that’s a big thing," Williams said.

The Rebound Kansas City is our effort is to help metro residents play a role in moving our community forward. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas to via email to and we welcome you to join in the conversation on the Rebound KC Facebook Group.

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