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Maine restaurants plan ahead for cooler weather under coronavirus restrictions

Restaurants are getting heaters and curtains to put on tents in preparations for operating in the cold weather during the COVID-19 pandemic

PORTLAND, Maine — Luke's Lobster in Portland has depended all summer on expanded outdoor seating to make ends meet during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

"We were only down 8 or 9% from last year in sales which is almost unbelievable, but it's because we've been able to expand and the city has given us extra licensing to put seating on the pier," said general manager Allison Edmund.

But as the weather starts to get cooler, Luke's Lobster and other restaurants are trying to plan ahead.

"We are going to get some sides for our tent and some heaters," said Edmund.

"Ready to make changes. That's how it's been all summer. What's our next best move," said Becky's Diner general manager Zack Rand.

Zack Rand, the general manager at Becky's Diner, said they will be dropping the curtains on their outdoor porch and will be using heaters in their tent. But he said it comes with challenges.

"As far as the parking lot, it's going to be trickier. It doesn't have curtains, it's open air. Heating it is much more difficult. But we want to keep it running as long as we can. The longer we keep it running, the longer we can maximize our space," said Rand.

In Freeport, the owner of Gritty McDuff's said outdoor seating has worked well. He hopes all the precautions he and his staff are taking will ease customers' minds about sitting inside as the seasons change.

"We've worked really hard to try and earn our patrons' trust. We've been socially distance, we've worn masks, we're followed CDC protocols as best we could," said owner Ed Stebbins.

While people may not be enjoying lobster in the snow, restaurants are hoping to keep outdoor dining going as long as possible.

"I think a lot of places around town including ourselves, we never thought about expanding this way, and now that we have, I hope it stays around," said Edmund.

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