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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –There’s a chill in the air, and it’s only going to get colder.

That has restaurants rushing to reinvent their patios and find ways to keep customers comfortable outside.

Birch’s on the Lake in Long Lake is like many restaurants and breweries right now, trying to keep customers coming in, while making them feel cozy wherever they’re comfortable.

Jackie Waller and friend Nicole Karsky are just eating outside these days, and say being able to get out without going in matters.

“We’re outdoors type of people now. Normal October, I wouldn’t be outdoor dining,” Waller said. “I work from home and I basically never leave my house, so getting outside and eating once a week with my friend is basically my only escape.”

Owner Burt Joseph said they’ve added more heaters.

“We have to embrace what we’re going through right now, and give people the best opportunity to enjoy it while we can,” Joseph said.

They will keep them going as long as customers want to sit outside, and are ready to add more if there’s demand.

“It’s fun to kind of entertain the thought of people being out here in November and December,” Joseph said.

Diners like Mike Logelin say they will adapt as the weather cools.

“If I know I’m going to be outside, I’ll just dress warmer,” Logelin said.

WCCO wanted to see what kind of a difference the heat really makes, so we brought along a thermometer to check the temperatures in different areas.

On the patio, away from any warmth, it was 54 degrees. Under the heat lamp, our temperature gauge read 64 degrees. Sitting close to the fire table felt warmer, and it was, at 75 degrees. The added heat made sitting outside bearable and pleasant.

Dozens of restaurants and breweries have added heat lamps, tents and other ways to warm people up while outside. Some will add ice rinks later in the season.

Click here to find the list of outdoor patios complied by WCCO’s Jason DeRusha.

Jennifer Mayerle

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