Stevens Point restaurants prepare for the return of outdoor seating

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 9:27 PM CST
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - Ice and snow are starting to be chipped away on the patio of Hilltop Pub and Grill in Stevens Point.

“There was quite a bit of snow and ice, but anything to clean it up and have a little extra seating,” said Jodi Passwaters, a manager at Hilltop, “And there have been people asking for outside already too.”

With capacity restrictions, seating has been a challenge. That’s why this extra seating is important.

“With the limited seating indoors, any little bit extra helps,” Passwaters said, “And I think people are a lot more comfortable sitting where there’s more fresh air outside like this too.”

At Hilltop Pub and Grill, outdoor dining in 2021 starts Tuesday.

“To have all the way outside before St. Paddy’s day is quite the change from usual,” Passwaters said.

There is a reason for pushing the day up. The outdoor dining opening tomorrow adds six tables to the 20 available, which is 25% of their usual capacity.

But down the road at El Mezcal, they are tapping the brakes on outdoor seating.

“It’s up to my employees. I respect them,” said Adolfo Melendez, the owner of El Mezcal in Stevens Point, “so if it’s too cold outside, I don’t want them to get cold, the flu, or anything, especially with the pandemic right now.”

While Melendez says Tuesday will likely bring outdoor seating, if the temperature is below 50 or 60 degrees, he says customers should respect the decision by the employee.

Each day will be on a day-by-day basis. But the extra capacity will help after a difficult year.

“It will extend it double. We’ll still have distance, but I’ll probably be able to put close to 8-10 tables outside,” Melendez said.

Heaters that were put in place last fall will make an appearance again at both restaurants. Melendez says they work well enough.

“Only if it gets a little windy, then it takes the heat away,” Melendez said.

Passwaters backed that, adding they do their job.

“It’s enough that on the nights where it starts to get cooler during the summer and hopefully all day for now,” Passwaters said, “it’s enough that it makes it comfortable for dining out here.”

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