Whether or not it’s the new normal remains to be seen, but it’s certainly the current reality.

In order to survive, restaurants have to make room for social distancing while dining.

What You Need To Know

  • Orlando City Council is considering extending a measure that allows restaurants and businesses to set up outdoor seating, tents, and signage in areas they couldn’t be before.

  • It’s set to expire in September but may be extended through February.

  • There’s a council meeting on Monday.

Maxine’s on Shine owners Maxine and Curt Earhart say this isn’t the first time they’ve had to cook up a creative solution.

"When we first bought the restaurant, we felt like it was sort of a game show, okay. You have the restaurant in the middle of a neighborhood. The restaurant is run down," they said.

“It’s like ‘are we gonna survive?’”

Then, COVID-19 hit.

“So, we kind of almost feel like we’re kind of back in that mindset again. We did it once before. We can do this," the Earharts said.

"When we heard Mayor Dyer allowed everyone to start using their parking lots, my husband came up with this great idea to build platforms and put cabanas out there. [We] kind of thought that, if we’ve got a pebble beach pavilion parking lot, let’s build islands of dining.”

Other restaurants have been forced to go even further. 

“Not every business has a parking lot that they can use, so we’ve been working with the city and utilizing some of the street to go ahead and do outside dining," said Lisa Cuatt, Executive Director of the Thornton Park District.

"That’s what we’ve been doing in the circle by World of Beer. It increases their ability to make more money and also for the consumers to come too because they feel safer. They want to be outside.”

The Earharts say their business is actually shining brighter than ever before.

“To be able to continue to do this – It’s a kind of experience that people in Orlando would love to enjoy, whether you’re local or coming and visiting."