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Winter is Coming!

Cat Flaherty, Small Business Support Fellow, reflects on the resilient nature of the service industry.


Thanks to the delta variant, an assuredly booming summer season for Portland’s restaurant scene simmered down rather quickly. An Old Port packed with tourists navigating heavy shopping bags and the cobblestone streets in summer now looks much more subdued than in years past. Add in supply chain shortages and the labor crisis, it’s no wonder restaurants are opting for smaller menus and shorter operating hours.


But not to worry. As the weather starts to cool and the leaves start to change color, we are reminded of the second wind of tourism that leaf-peeping season blows in. Just around the corner are cozy wood fire pits, decorated a-frames, and heated igloos. The Portland City Council Committee is even considering keeping some of the street closures and parklets permanent. That’s great news for restaurants that invested heavily in creative outdoor dining for the colder months.


Many Portlanders are opting out of dining indoors, especially those who have vulnerable friends and family. That being said, there’s going to be just as many options for outdoor dining as there was last winter. An online survey conducted last month by the Maine Outdoor Dine team showed that out of the 63 restaurants surveyed, 62 will be offering some sort of outdoor dining experience to customers. The most popular accommodation being propane heaters, with 50 respondents indicating they will be using them.


If there’s anything the past year and a half has shown, it’s that the service industry will continue to adapt and persevere. Even though winter can bring some seriously cold weather and cabin fever, it’s important to remember there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and explore the city.


About Cat Flaherty


Catherine (or Cat) is a lifelong Portlander. She attended the University of Southern Maine and studied Environmental Planning and Policy. She enjoys being outside and loves to spend time on Maine’s beautiful coastline as much as possible. Having been born and raised in Portland, Cat believes in giving back to the community that has given her so much. She is excited to learn, grow and connect with people.

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