NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Colder weather means New York City restaurants are facing new outdoor dining challenges.
Some restaurants are getting creative to keep customers happy. They're handing out blankets and even building bubbles for diners to sit in to stay warm, CBS2's Christina Fan reported.
"I want the warmth. I don't want to eat dinner, or eat lunch and feel chilly," said outdoor diner Melanie Keenan
Restaurant workers said what they really need is clear guidance from the city.
AnnaMaria Matteis, manager at Serafina on the Upper West Side, said she could solve chilly diners' problems immediately with heat lamps, but she says the city has yet to provide clear guidelines on outdoor heating.
Matteis said it's costing her customers.
"We have so many reservations that called and said tonight is going to be too cold, and they cancel," Matteis said.
For weeks, restaurant owners have been pleading for Mayor Bill de Blasio to provide updated information. Our questions to his office were, once again, unanswered Monday.
But, the Department of Buildings sent CBS2 an email that said restaurants can use either natural gas or electric heaters, but not propane gas. If gas heaters are going to be used, the city says the FDNY must inspect first. If electrical heaters are used, an electrician must check out the system to make sure it's safe.
The DOB guidelines have been in place since 2013. But, restauranteurs want to know if the mayor will amend any of the rules and provide more flexibility on the types of heaters that can be used.
"We need to know right away what's going to happen. The city should think about us in the restaurant business," said Alain Chevreux, of Cafe du Soleil.
The owners of Cafe du Soleil said, while awaiting clarification, they had to improvise their own solution by erecting personal pods to keep customers shielded from the rain and cold.
"It will buy us a month, maybe. When it's cold, it's cold," said Nadine Chevreux.
Indoor dining in New York City starts on Sept. 30. But, for many restaurants, the 25 percent capacity cap isn't enough to sustain the business.
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