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Lansing restaurant owner worries cold weather could impact business

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Lansing, Mich. (WLNS)– Many Mid-Michigan restaurants have depended on outdoor seating throughout the pandemic because of social distancing and capacity limits inside. As summer comes to an end, so will that outdoor dining.

“It’s gonna hit us pretty hard when we have to take this down,” Michael Wong, Owner of Fleetwood Diner in Lansing said.

Wong said after being shut down, he knew with all the new regulations, having a patio would ease the burden of capacity limitations.

Fleetwood Diner in Lansing added outdoor patio seating just prior to being allowed to re-open in June

“People really enjoy sitting out here. We’ve had a huge positive response about what we did out here. People think we’ve done a real good job and they feel real comfortable out here,” Wong said.

He said the patio now accounts for half of his seating, which means losing those 36 seats, will likely take a toll on his business.

“I know what losing half the seating capacity does to a business and it’s not easy. This is the first time that we’ve ever encountered a situation like this and it, you know, we’re pretty much trying to figure it out as we go,” Wong said.

With only 12 tables available for use inside due to social distancing, Wong is worried about how he’ll have to accommodate for lost funds.

“I don’t see the restrictions on restaurants and dine-in service to be lifted anytime soon. We’ll just have to evolve and I’m afraid I’m going to have to cut some of my staff if we lose a lot of business. I don’t want to put anybody out of a job,” Wong said.

The good thing, however, is that he’s seen a 200 percent increase in deliveries since re-opening. He hopes those numbers continue, and that it’s enough to carry him through the colder months so that he doesn’t have to cut hours or lose staff.

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