Snow, but not too much, could be boon to Portland restaurants

Business

Severe winter weather could have negative impact on restaurants that usually thrive over Valentine's Day weekend

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Valentine’s Day weekend is typically a big one for local restaurants but even though COVID restrictions on indoor dining are easing, a snowstorm could still keep people home this year.

The owners of the Portland Kettle said cold weather actually boosts their business as people seek out bowls of hot soup, chili and gumbo.

Co-owner Gayle Ostling said the team at the Portland Kettle is looking forward to Friday, for more than one reason.

Counties in the metro area were lowered from “Extreme Risk” to “High Risk” this week and, starting Friday, restaurants can begin offering some indoor dining once more. The change could be a turning point for many businesses. Ostling said business at the Portland Kettle dropped by 80% when the pandemic began and has seen marginal improvement since then.

Ostling said they’re even excited about snow in the forecast because cold weather typically brings in more customers.

“We are very excited about it coming,” she said. “We hope that it snows a lot and we hope that everybody is freezing so they come in and get some hot soup.”

But there’s a fine line between snow that’s good for business and snow that halts business in its tracks. If the winter weather is too severe, it could snarl traffic and take a negative toll on restaurants looking for a Valentine’s Day weekend boost.

“Hopefully the weather will impact us to the positive,” Ostling said.

At the Flying Fish Company, Chef Erik Englund said they’d also like to see snow — but not too much. Englund said they’re crossing their fingers for snow “that’s not too good, but where it’s beautiful and people can just sit outside and watch it fall.”

Englund said customers can grab some of their new winter merchandise and enjoy a hot dish like chowder on the heated patio. He also hopes Valentine’s Day specials help to lure people in no matter the weather.

“We are going to be doing some extra-special things for couple to come out and dine,” he said. “We have a caviar service: we are going to be serving trout roe as well as sturgeon caviar.”

For those who can’t venture outside this weekend, takeout is still a way to show a favorite restaurant some love.

“You can still make a nice table at home and still have a nice dinner on Valentine’s Day but have their prepared food rather than your own,” suggested Ostling.

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