SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The hazy, smokey air has been affecting more than just the weather. It is making a big impact on local restaurants, and not in a positive way.
Many restaurants are closing their outdoor areas and, at the same time, customers are opting to stay home.
The smokey haze lingering in the air is affecting everything in northeastern Pennsylvania. Athletics, academics, and even dining.
Some restaurants in Scranton are feeling the impact more than others.
“Do you think this is kind of affecting people with outdoor seating the most during this time?” 28/22 reporter Emily Allegrucci asked.
“Uh yeah. 100 percent,” said Zack Cooper, floor manager at Cooper’s Seafood House.
Cooper’s Seafood House had to close its outdoor dining area, a popular spot that brings in many during warmer months.
“We do get a lot of business from the dock, but we do have extra rooms inside for when it’s rainy or smokey,” Cooper continued.
Just down the street, Andy Gavin’s Eatery and Pub opted to keep their patio open.
“We’re not gonna be the ones to tell someone they can’t do something, we’ve already went through that with COVID. But no, people are still welcome to come sit outside, I know it’s that they don’t want to clearly,” said Ashley Levandoski, bartender for Andy Gavin’s Eatery and Pub.
Regardless of outdoor seating being available, customers have not been interested in dining surrounded by the smoke.
“I feel bad for people who are only outdoor seating, luckily we have both. If you just had outdoor, you’d have nothing. Look out here. It’s a ghost town,” Cooper explained.
“It’s honestly been a dead zone. It’s like we lost more seating because of it, people aren’t really even coming out as much because half of them are scared to even leave their houses because of it,” Levandoski said.
The poor air quality has been leaving more than just these outdoor seating options empty.
The local restaurants have been seeing a hit to their indoor dining as well.
Just a few days with this haze is leaving a mark on NEPA. Andy Gavin’s says their business inside has been almost as slow as outside.
“There was probably half of what I would get inside that even came out because of it,” Levandoski explained.
After a rough couple of years with the pandemic, they say they can’t wait to return to normal.
“The sooner the better. We can’t take any more loss on business, we’ve already the last few years lost so much. We definitely want people to come back out and not people to start feeling scared again,” said Levandoski.
These restaurants say they are hopeful that these hazy days are almost past us and are planning to open up their outdoor areas as soon as possible.