For a majority of residents in the United States, the month of October typically means the start of colder weather and accepting the departure of summer. But for those living in the eastern United States, the unseasonably warm temperatures this month were a chance to savor the joys of summer just a little bit longer -- and a boon to entrepreneurs.
The extended summer weather has given a boost to small businesses in the region, especially for those that operate outdoor facilities or whose products are typically associated with the summer months.
"I think certainly in the dining sector [of business] some restaurants and cafés have seen continued use of their outdoor areas as a result of the warmer weather," said Tiffany Townsend, communications director for NYC & Company, New York's official marketing and tourism organization.
Just last month, city officials passed a new rule that allows restaurant owners in the five boroughs to install approved portable natural gas heaters in their outdoor dining spaces. The new policy is intended to provide an advantage to business owners by permitting them to operate their sidewalk cafés in the colder months.
However, most businesses with outdoor facilities have been able to delay the installation of space heaters for the remainder of the month. At the Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens, the outdoor seating area remains open year-round, but typically transforms to a tented-in area outfitted with portable heaters at this time of year.
Acting general manager Lizanne Fluxmon said the beer garden was originally planning to do some construction on the premises this month, but due to the warm weather the past few weeks, she and her staff were happy to postpone it for the off-season. When it comes to business, Fluxmon said it's appropriate that the weather has cooperated recently.
"The best time to be at the beer garden is in October because the weather is more tolerable," she said. And picture-perfect weather the past couple of weekends has certainly meant some extra pocket change. "Our season is extremely short, but what we make in the three months of summer pretty much carries us through the year."
Then again, the beer garden also got an unexpected boost when temperatures in New York were balmy back in January. "I had people in shorts and sunglasses sitting in the garden," Fluxmon said. "People were giving global warming parties."
Call it global warming, or a fortunate warming trend, but weather statistics for the New York region show that for half of the month of October, temperatures were at least 10 degrees higher than the normal average. For 11 days of the month, the region experienced temperatures of 75 degrees or higher, according to AccuWeather records. The normal high for this time of year is 60 degrees.
But for Nicoló De Rienzo, co-owner of GROM, a popular Italian gelato shop in Manhattan, the higher than normal temperatures didn't exactly work in his favor in much the way that he would have expected.
"After Labor day, we had 20 percent less customers in one day, even though the weather was the same," De Rienzo said. When it comes to eating something cold, like gelato, he observed that people change their consumption habits once it officially turns fall on the calendar. "It's the end of the summer. People switch mentally," he said. "They are used to doing things at certain times of the year."