SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Many local restaurants are having a hard time finding outdoor patio heaters.
The difficulty comes as restaurant owners in San Diego County prepare to close their indoor dining areas and take operations outside when new COVID-19 related restrictions take effect Saturday.
The county is moving from the state's red to the purple tier following an increase in COVID-19 cases. The purple tier has the toughest COVID-19 related rules.
The owners of Sisters Pizza in Hillcrest say they own four outdoor heaters and recently purchased two more from Amazon three weeks ago, one of the last left at the time. They are due to arrive any day.
"We paid about four times the price of our original space heater," owner Emily Green Lake said. "Right now, the heaters are really what it's all about in keeping people wanting to come back to your spot, or that second glass of wine or that dessert, and all of those extras are what's keeping businesses afloat right now."
Premier Patio Heating in Oceanside, which rents out patio heaters, is out. Eddie Essey, vice president of operations, said they have a backlog of about 200 orders from restaurants and hotels. Anyone looking to get some from them now has a six-week wait.
"I'm saying six weeks," Essey said. "Honestly, that's a little optimistic. Realistically, I don't expect my supply chain to be where I want it to be until March or April."
He's putting new orders on a waitlist but advising the customer to keep looking and trying other suppliers.
"Restaurants are struggling enough as it is that I don't want them to be missing out on income on their patios every night just waiting on me to get a shipment in," he said. "Everyone needs more patio heaters. People that already have some need more, people that don't have any, need some."
Many restaurants told ABC 10News off-camera that they could not find any patio heaters and are still looking. Others said they had a difficult time getting their hands on some.