'It's cold': Chilly temperatures mount new challenge for struggling Bay Area restaurants

BURLINGAME, Calif. (KGO) -- On the coldest night of the fall season, Bay Area restaurants could already feel the chill.

"The statistics are that if it's 45 degrees or less people won't dine outside," said Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and owner of multiple restaurants in San Francisco. "We saw 25% of the reservations we had this afternoon canceled, you can't blame anybody, it's cold."

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At restaurants like Rise Pizzeria and Sixto's Cantina, the best they can do is to make the dining experience as cozy as possible.

"We have heaters coming on the way that will heat this whole area right here," said Lisa Timanus, Manager at Rise Pizzeria.

Cheryl Chiapalone of Sixto's Cantina said, "We also have a lot more heat lamps on order. Everybody's bought the heat lamps."

Heat lamps are saving the day for now, but they're not a perfect solution.

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Thomas says some restaurants are paying up to $5000 a month to keep their lamps running. Each one can cost up to $1500, each. Storage and maintenance can also be problematic.

We reached out to Dr. Peter Chin-Hong at UCSF for some tips on safe indoor dining.

"If you're choosing to dine indoors, you want a restaurant that's in a new office building where there are a lot of air exchanges per hour. If you want to dine indoors, try to wear your mask as much as possible, reduce the duration of time, dine with your pod. If you go to the bathroom make sure you keep your mask on," he said.

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Most restaurants in the Bay Area are still at a limited capacity in order to follow social distancing rules. Places like Sixto's and Rise try to keep their windows open for better ventilation. But, if you must dine outdoors, just dress for the weather and help the restaurant industry get through what might be their toughest winter yet.

"We really need another federal aid package," said Laurie Thomas, who says that the 50% survival rate of restaurants under current conditions could grow bigger without government help.

"If people can handle it and they can bundle up and wear Ugg's, you're definitely going to help," she said.

"Our best hope is not that cold of a winter or that people are patient with us," said Timanus.

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