Warm weather attracts more customers than usual to local restaurants

Samantha Radecki The State News


Advertising senior Allie Machasic, right, talks with psychology junior Torey Duvall Sunday afternoon on the patio of The Peanut Barrel Restaurant, 521 E. Grand River Ave.

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An unseasonably warm March has helped boost business for some restaurants as MSU students and East Lansing residents flock to outdoor patios.

This month’s weather has been “unprecedented,” said T.J. Turnage, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids.

Weather services have projected colder temperatures for the next 10 days, but businesses still have felt the effects of a warm spring.

Above-average temperatures have driven more patrons to the patio at The Peanut Barrel Restaurant, 521 E. Grand River Ave., said Meghan Bell, a manager at the restaurant.

The restaurant’s patio normally opens up around this time of year, but crowds have been much larger than normal, Bell said.

The patio also is staying open later because warmer temperatures sometimes last into the night, Bell said.

“The patio will automatically fill up almost as soon as we open, and then we start to get a line,” she said.

Bell said because of the outdoor line, some customers end up eating inside the restaurant instead.
A busier spring also led the restaurant to bring back some staff members early, she said.

Patrons also have been eating at the patio at Woody’s Oasis Bar Grill, 211 E. Grand River Ave. to enjoy the warm weather, bartender Kyle Watson said.

“It’s helped a lot,” he said. “Our patio is pretty much full when it’s nice out.”

Outdoor seating on the roof of El Azteco Restaurant, 225 Ann St., normally does not open until May 5 — when the restaurant celebrates Cinco de Mayo — but owners said they would like to open roof seating soon if the nice weather persists.

“This time of year, when we first open, everyone wants to be out on the patio,” said Heather Holguin, a manager at the restaurant.

Even though temperatures are projected to drop slightly this week, the weather in East Lansing will still be warmer than normal, Turnage said.

“It just won’t be extreme,” he said. “We’re still looking at a pretty good run of 10 to 20 degrees above normal.”

Hospitality business sophomore Kelsey Wright said she and her friends have spent more time outside as a result of the warmer weather and said they often eat lunch on the lawn or benches on campus.

“It was really great for walking to classes and such,” she said. “We get to hang out more outside.”
But the warm weather can’t last forever, Turnage said.

If the beginning of spring is warmer than normal, it often leads to below-average temperatures during late spring and summer, Turnage said.

“That’s actually happened rather frequently,” Turnage said. “It’s kind of hard to say where we’ll be.”
Bell said if temperatures drop in the next few weeks, business at The Peanut Barrel most likely will return to usual levels.

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