New program looks to provide heaters to Raleigh bars, restaurants during cooler months of the pandemic

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- After already losing so much due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some restaurant and bar owners are preparing to make another investment. Small businesses need heaters for outdoor space and a new program could help them financially.

Some of the tower heaters can cost you up to $800 each.

Junction West, a bar and event venue located in the Warehouse District of downtown Raleigh, is one spot looking to benefit.

The patio area is fairly large -- a huge plus for a bar these days considering they're only allowed to operate outdoors during Phase 3.

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"It's kind of a raw space. There's not much to it," said Gabie Frantz, the owner of Junction West.

Besides square footage, it also has a view of the skyline.

"We love our view. I think that's definitely a really fun and unique aspect of this space," Frantz said.
But customers haven't been able to enjoy the view because Frantz has yet to reopen her bar. She said she needs to furnish the area before they start serving drinks again.

As we approach the cooler months, she's hoping to benefit from a new program offering small businesses outdoor heaters, but Frantz needs to avoid another financial squeeze.

"Bars in particular that have been closed going on 8 months. You can barely pay your bills right now," said Frantz.

Enter Shop Local Raleigh, the organization is spearheading an effort to source and disburse heaters at a discount price; all possible through community donations.

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"A small business is almost like your second home. It's almost like your baby. The business owners that suffered from the riots and COVID situations in downtown, they had to suffer a lot of loss in business that was unexpected and unplanned for," said Tica Lema,CARE chief operating officer.

All Junction West is planning, for now, is getting business back on track by creating a comfortable space.

"Not just physically comfortable, but that they feel safe in terms of COVID and their personal health," said Frantz.
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