By Matt Petrillo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Another shutdown of indoor dining is a big blow to restaurants struggling to stay afloat in Philadelphia. Restaurant owners are in the fight of their lives, and many are in a full-out blitz trying to save their businesses during the upcoming winter months.

The owner of Taqueria Amor in Manayunk is hoping thousands of holiday lights, big outside heaters and a Grinch-themed menu will keep his 7-year-old restaurant afloat.

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“We’re doing a Christmas takeover,” owner and chef Tim Spinner said.

Spinner is working to attract hungry customers who are willing to bundle up and eat outside after Philadelphia city leaders banned indoor dining again.

“This country is built on the backbone of small business and it feels like some city officials have turned their back on small businesses,” Spinner said. “Gyms and restaurants are going to close and the lack of empathy there is very disappointing.”

The city initially OK’d indoor dining amid the pandemic back in September, and many restaurants made changes.

“We have barriers up and masks are required,” Spinner said.

But Philly leaders are reversing that decision. Its new ban on indoor dining will last through at least the end of the year.

“It’s quite disappointing,” Spinner said.

On top of the indoor restrictions, outdoor dining has new rules, too. Now, only groups of four people who live in the same household will be allowed to drink and eat outside together.

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“I think I should be able to make that decision and not be told that I have to,” Melissa Russo said.

“I feel very upset for my friends who own restaurants who are losing money and could lose their business,” Donna Grasso said.

Many restaurant workers in Philadelphia are bracing for more layoffs.

Over at Rouge in Rittenhouse Square, owner Robert Wasserman is pleading with federal leaders to come up with a financial package for struggling restaurants.

“Sadly, I’m not going to be able to keep everyone. No one’s working together,” Wasserman said. “And because of that, it’s causing such a big issue in the sense of how it falls on the burden of us and our staff. There’s going to be a lot of people out of work starting today.”

The Restaurant Act of 2020 could offer relief for restaurants, but it’s currently stalled in Congress. A federal court denied restaurant owners’ request for an injunction that tried to stop the city’s indoor ban.


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