SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - It was a chilly dilemma for a Pacific Beach restaurant: outdoor dining this winter without any patio heaters.
The owners changed their outlook by appealing to their customers for help.
After shutting down several times since the pandemic began, Break Point restaurant and bar, reopened in September. With the purple tier restrictions putting a halt to indoor dining, the owners turned to their new parklet to host their outdoor dining. But they had a problem.
"Keeping customers warm is a concern," said co-owner Amy Lee.
Lee says when the winter temps arrive, they would need gas patio heaters to warm up customers, and they didn't have any.
"We found that they were pretty much sold out everywhere, and where they weren't sold out, prices were inflated to the point, that they were unaffordable," said Lee.
One local supplier recently told ABC 10News they had a backlog of 200 orders.
So Lee turned to social media, making an appeal for patio heaters on the Nextdoor app and community pages on Facebook.
One of those appeals was seen by the Rynearson family. They had a backyard heater they hadn't used in awhile. Chance Rynearson, 14, says it was an easy call to lend the heater to Lee for as long as she needs it.
"COVID has really hit businesses hard. Just to help out is a good thing ... People should be helping each other during these times ... difficult but we should be able to get through it together," said Rynearson.
In all, 17 people offered to either donate or lend a heater to Break Point, far more than Lee needed.
"It's like Christmas. It makes you wanna believe in Santa again ... It was that heartwarming," said Lee.
Heartwarming and customer warming. Lee says this gives them a chance at survival this winter.
"I think it shows we should still have a lot of faith in our neighbors, in our community, and in humanity in general ... and that there's still a lot of good people out there. We are so grateful," said Lee.
Lee says she offered many of the donors meals, but many didn't accept, saying that's 'not the reason' they wanted to help out. Lee says they have picked up five heaters and have seven more on standby for colder temperatures.