It’s been two months since Michigan’s bars and restaurants started reopening for on-premises service following months of partial closures due to novel coronavirus. While the ongoing pandemic still deservedly consumes much of the world’s attention, in Detroit many establishments are trying to make the most of Michigan’s meager outdoor dining season and the new coronavirus-driven laws and fast-tracked permits that have allowed patio seating to expand.
Restaurants with tiny indoor dining spaces are particularly vulnerable to the limits of 50 percent capacity and six feet of social distance. Some establishments have elected not to open at all given that the cost of reopening would outweigh any potential earnings from a more limited number of customers. Other small operators with the means to adapt to patio service have done so in record time, transforming parking lots into outdoor oases and spilling tables out onto closed streets. Unpredictable weather is also a part of summer in Detroit and some businesses have constructed tents and covered pergolas to give customers a drier (or shadier) seating option during a rainstorm.
Eater asked photographers Michelle Gerard and Jenna Belevender to take photos throughout July capturing the view from 2020’s highly unusual summer dining scene in Detroit.
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