With indoor capacity limited throughout much of the pandemic, most restaurant operators focused on expanding their outdoor options. For some, seating areas went well beyond the traditional patio. In many communities, restaurants were allowed to expand onto the sidewalk, into a closed-off section of a street, or into an adjacent parking lot.

More than 4 in 10 fullservice operators and roughly 1 in 4 limited-service operators say they added outdoor seating on a sidewalk, parking lot or street since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020.

Consumers responded favorably to these additional outdoor options: 43% of adults say they sat outside at a table that was located on a sidewalk, parking lot or street during the last 12 months.

Millennials, Gen Z adults, urban residents, Northeast residents, individuals in households with children, and individuals in higher-income households were the most likely to say they dined outside at a table that was located on a sidewalk, parking lot or street.

While more than 4 in 10 consumers dined outside at a ‘streetery’ during the past 12 months, nearly double that number think these seating options should continue indefinitely. Eighty-four percent of adults say they favor allowing restaurants to continue setting up tables on a sidewalk, parking lot or street on a permanent basis. Only 16% of adults oppose this.

Among baby boomers, 84% think restaurants should be able to permanently offer expanded outdoor seating. That is more than three times higher than the 27% who were able to dine outside at a table that was located on a sidewalk, parking lot or street during the last 12 months.

Read more analysis and commentary from the Association's chief economist Bruce Grindy.