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Toledo news, weather, traffic and sports | Toledo, Ohio, | wtol.com

People, businesses excited for return of warm weather and outdoor dining

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to adopt outdoor dining if they hadn't already but people are more excited than ever for the offering.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — You may have been one of many who outside Wednesday to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine. If so, you may also be affected by the same affliction many are experiencing - spring fever. People and restaurant owners we spoke to are ready to head back outside.

"Not have to worry about being warm," said Chris Johnston of Perrysburg said about why she's optimistic for spring. "And the sun's out and it just feels so optimistic."

Johnston and her daughter Lindsey took a seat in downtown Perrysburg and read a book in the sunshine. There was just a feeling of bliss in the breeze.

Alex Bryan was walking her dog down Louisiana Avenue. She now works from home full time so she says anytime outdoors is great.

"I was feeling OK probably for the better part of the last year because I could still go outside," she said.

But she noted the winter was rough. February's cold and snow kept everyone inside, including her new puppy Willow. And she believes the spring is a fresh start.

"You know with the good weather comes more outdoor dining opportunities," she said, "and I think people feel a lot more comfortable with outdoor dining right now."

Tony Bilancini owns Swig in Perrysburg. He's hoping for a better spring and summer this year.

"We always took it for granted," he said of going out to eat, "and now that we went through, you know last summer was scary, it really was."

Johnston pointed out businesses should be applauded for how much they've adapted to survive.

"We've really been creative during the pandemic having garage parties with heaters," she said. "It's really nice to get outside and the thought of going to a restaurant outside is just great."

Bilancini plans to expand his patio. He says they're more prepared this year and realize how important their role is in people's lives.

"The purpose of restaurants and taverns and pubs, etc. is we bring people together," he said. "And even though we have to be careful, there is still that camaraderie and that's very important to everything to our culture, to our psyche, to everything."

There are still more than two weeks left of winter but people can feel spring is in the air, and so is, they hope, an end to this COVID chapter.