ROCK HILL, Mo. – A fall chill is on the way this weekend, but area restaurants are making changes to ensure that patio season can roll on.
Even before the pandemic, the popularity of outdoor dining was on the rise. And with COVID-19 keeping people in the open air, restaurants are spending big to update their outdoor spaces for three- and four-season dining.
“At the end of the day, the outdoor dining is the premier choice at this point in time,” said Jeff Parrott, Farotto’s Pasta and Pizzeria in Rock Hill.
In 2015, Farotto’s expanded and built the patio they never had. The decision was fortunate, as the outdoor space allowed them to stay open during the pandemic.
“It’s been our saving grace to have a well-vented, four-season patio. It’s worked out very well,” Parrott said.
The area can be fully open with fans going in the summer and closed-up and heated during the colder months. Diners have embraced the space.
“We fill this space one hundred percent usually before they start migrating inside,” Parrott said.
Just down the road, Katie’s Pizza And Pasta finished a patio upgrade just in time for summer.
“We have heaters out here. We have fans out here. It’s completely covered and rainproof,” manager Kevin McKay said.
McKay said the patio is the number one requested spot for diners.
“Over the last year, there have been so many people only wanting to sit in patios, requesting to sit on our patio,” he said. “It’s just been really nice to build this structure so we can offer our guests the perfect place to sit for them.”
Patrons finding the outdoor options they want means they return to the restaurant, keeping it open and staff employed.
“I think it’s a good investment going forward. Because even in years to come, I think are going to want really compelling patio options,” McKay said.