Breanna Hardy">

Max's Bistro in Fresno has invested in a new heated tent to accommodate diners during Fresno's purple-tier restrictions. Photos by Breanna Hardy

published on November 24, 2020 - 1:32 PM
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A Christmas tree and lights strung throughout the new outdoor seating tent invite new guests to dine outside for the winter weather ahead.

J.J. Wettstead, owner of Max’s Bistro, has added a new outdoor seating area for the winter weather.

“I mean the environment’s really pretty. It’s serene and really nice,” said Wettstead.

The new seating came on Nov. 13 as a response to the colder weather and limits on indoor seating. 

“We’ve been doing outdoor seating in one way or another since July,” Wettstead said.

Part of his colder weather plan was to switch the seating area to the left side of the building where warmer air could circulate.  

The tent and heating system is fully certified by the Fresno Fire Department.

Restaurants can’t run open propane inside of a covered tent, so he found a different way to keep guests warm outside.

“We have a diffuser that runs at ground level so the hot air rises,” he said.

Wettstead says most people are very receptive to it, and they really enjoy coming to sit down.

“We have a nice following of guests that have been coming for years and years, so the support has been fantastic,” he said.


While the tent has been a positive addition, Wettstead says the money it costs to operate the heating system in the tent, plus the building’s monthly bills, make for “a double rent.”

It’s been 100% positive, but on the other end it’s been difficult to keep the restaurant operating at normal levels.

“There is absolutely no profit involved,” he said. 

But Wettstead’s goal is to stay relevant despite Covid restrictions, while making it safe and enjoyable for customers.

“It’s the restaurant business — it’s how it goes,” Wettstead said. “We do feel that we’re doing the right thing and keeping a safe space and keeping people employed.”

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