Arts / Entertainment

Restaurants get creative, using outdoor space for dining during pandemic

Ruth's Chris at Irvine

Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Irvine takes fine dining outside during the pandemic. / Photo: Courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House

By Ann Frances –

Pivot. That’s what virtually every business has done in one way or another over the last four months. Restaurants have been on their toes since the pandemic began and the lockdown was in force. They’re getting creative as they respond to the changing regulations regarding dining. First it was takeout or drive-thru only, with no indoor seating. Then it was limited seating inside with masks and social distancing. Now “dine-in” means enjoying a meal outside.

Parking lots have turned into dining terraces for even the most exclusive establishments. Ruth’s Chris’s Irvine location on Michelson Drive has taken things outside as elegantly as is possible. Its black draping and red umbrellas define the space just outside the entrance to the steak house. The management and staff offer diners a fine dining experience “under the stars,” complete with white linen, candles and carpets under each table to further customize the space.

Ruth's Chris at Irvine #2

Black draping and red umbrellas define the space just outside the entrance to the steak house. / Photo: Courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House

The Irvine Barclay Theatre, also closed due to the coronavirus, has teamed up with Bayside restaurant in Newport Beach so that both businesses can benefit from what the other offers. A summer series pairs fine food with great music on six consecutive Saturdays beginning Aug. 15. The series is called “The Barclay Summer Jazz Lunch at Bayside.”

Bayside’s patio allows for a safe configuration of table seating. The restaurant says all patrons will be temperature checked before being admitted, with anyone registering a temperature of 100 degrees or more not admitted. Masks must be worn when entering, socializing, and leaving your seat for any reason. While seated at the table, masks are optional. No more than 100 people will be admitted.

Promotional material indicates that the restaurant is open at 11 a.m. for lunch and the music begins at noon.

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