In a spot survey, restaurant managers say their patios remain open and are prepared for the weather change.
So far, Dallas-area dining establishments with premier patios have managed to mostly escape the impact of the current pandemic conditions.
This week, Dallas County’s COVID-19 threat level was moved to red, which represents the most severe level of risk of contracting the coronavirus. The upgrade was in response to a recent rise in cases fueled by the omicron variant that has caused some Dallas-area restaurants to temporarily close because of impacts on staffing. But in a spot survey, restaurant managers at the following eateries say their patios remain open and staffed.
The county is recommending that diners avoid high-risk indoor settings in favor of outdoor seating whenever possible, so some diners might turn to outdoor dining options to welcome the new year, even as the weather gets chillier.
“Before the pandemic, we didn’t have a year-round courtyard — well, nothing like a pandemic to encourage outside dining,” said S&D Oyster Company general manager Therese Washington.
At José, a Guadalajaran restaurant that’s a favorite among Park Cities and Bluffview patrons, general manager Victor Rojas said protocols are in place, such as seating guests in smaller numbers.
“Our patio is definitely a draw for our guests over the last year, so we’ve rearranged the seating to dissuade guests from booking larger groups,” Rojas said. “So, we’re being safe as well.”
Patios also remain open at Shady’s Burger in Lake Highlands, Terry Black’s Barbecue on Deep Ellum, Jaxon Texas Kitchen & Beer Garden in downtown Dallas, The Wild Detectives and The Salty Donut — all restaurant patios that food writer Sarah Blaskovich spotlighted in March 2021.
S&D Oyster Company has had staffing shortages recently, but they had nothing to do with the pandemic. It’s a matter of longtime employees retiring or moving, Washington said. At José, Rojas said his staff has been “very lucky and no one has gotten sick — 94% of our staff is vaccinated.”
Wild Detectives in North Oak Cliff and The Salty Donut on Davis Street have had some minor staffing issues that affect the patio experience, but nothing significant.
“We’re staying pretty busy, especially with the weather as it is good as now,” said Moriah Lemaster of Wild Detectives.
The unseasonably warm weather recently has only increased patio traffic. But that could change on New Year’s Day, when temperatures in Dallas-Fort Worth could plunge to more-seasonable norms, according to the National Weather Service. Hail and gusty winds are possible Friday night ahead of a cold front Saturday that could send temperatures below freezing across North Texas.
To be prepared for wintry weather, some restaurants with large patios — like Palmer’s Hot Chicken on Mockingbird Lane, Encina in Oak Cliff, Malai Kitchen in Uptown and Postino in Deep Ellum — have made sure they have heaters in place.
At José, Rojas said his restaurant purchased and installed four 240-volt heaters, “just in case.”