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  • Axios Austin

    Austin restaurants brace for heat

    By Madalyn MendozaNicole Cobler,


    As another potentially record-breaking summer looms, local businesses are preparing to zig while the mercury zags up.

    Why it matters: Adjusting to weather-related challenges is crucial for small businesses, especially as high temperatures often discourage outdoor activities.

    Driving the news: Central Texas has already seen heat indices up to 115 degrees this month, and Austin-Travis County EMS officials reported a 90% increase for heat-related illnesses compared to this time last year.

    Threat level: Last summer's extreme heat could have reduced the state's GDP growth by as much as $24 billion, according to Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas' estimates.

    • Jobs in leisure, hospitality, mining, construction and manufacturing are "notably affected" by heat waves, per the Fed report.
    • The Texas Restaurant Association also noted this dip coincided with rising food costs and offered tips that local establishments are adopting.

    State of play: Well-known local bars and restaurants are adjusting hours and finding new ways to tackle the heat.

    • Skinny's Off Track Bar entered into a partnership with Cowboy Pools so guests can lounge in a stock tank pool while eating and drinking. The bar also paused its popular weenie dog races until the weather cools down. Skinny's now has a stock tank pool to let customers cool off in the heat. Photo: Courtesy of NoCo Hospitality
    • Lao'd Bar , which opened in April as an open-air concept, shifted its hours to open later — from 5pm instead of 4pm on weeknights, and 12-3pm and after 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. It also added an industrial AC unit, as well as evaporative coolers and misters.
    • Victory Lap , the West Campus bar, reduced its hours for summer.
    • Bar Peached , like many spots with outdoor seating, has installed misters and fans for customers.

    Between the lines: Restaurants are already under the city's stage 2 restrictions for misters and water use.

    Zoom out: In San Antonio , which hit a heat index of 117 this month — the highest ever recorded in the city — restaurants are training their staff to recognize and prevent heat exhaustion, installing shade coverings and adding misters.

    What we're watching: How the heat impacts Austin businesses as the National Restaurant Association predicts record-breaking sales of $1.1 trillion by the end of December.

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