Despite Fearing Drought, Many Revel in the Sun

by Joseph Mayton on January 23, 2014

As Governor Jerry Brown declared California in a state of drought in a number of counties earlier this month, San Franciscans were out and about, enjoying record highs and much sunshine. The rain was staying away, and for many restaurants, cafes and businesses, it has meant a summerlike revival of business in what are typically the slowest months of the year.

“We are gaining a massive number of guests on a regular basis and it is very exciting because as you know January and February are usually the slowest months for restaurants,” said George, a General Manager at an Organic restaurant in the city. He told Beyond Chron that “many people are loving the sun and sitting outside to just enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. It is fun.”

But he also pointed out that businesses are likely to be hit first by the drought and potential water conservation needs, such as reducing water usage. “One of the things I know a lot of owners and managers are going to look at is not offering water unless a guest asks for it, or charging for water in order to become more sustainable.”

That hasn’t diminished residents from enjoying the past few weeks of summer conditions, with many couples and friends relishing in the good weather by heading out for a drink.

Sasha, a 28-year-old accountant at a legal firm, said that it has been “wonderful” to “be outside having a beer after work with friends and not have to freeze or go inside.” She and around 25 others who had taken Tuesday off to relax at Dolores Park also said that they have been out to eat more often than they can remember ever doing in a January.

“My boyfriend and I have gone out at least 6 times already this month and it’s because the weather has been so good we don’t want to just stay in,” she told Beyond Chron.

Although business for cafes and restaurants have been booming, cinemas have been hit somewhat by the warm weather, with less than usual January numbers being seen heading for the latest release. According to one general manager at a cinemaplex in the city, he believes the nice weather conditions have led to more people enjoying their time outside rather than cramped inside to watch a movie.

“Usually the winter months are decent because the weather is ugly and a great way to escape it is to head inside,” he said, adding that “but with all this sunshine people are heading outside. I don’t blame them.”

And what does the pending drought cutbacks mean for the cinema? The GM said that he and other administrators are looking at ways to become more sustainable and reduce water intake on a daily basis.

“One of the things we are looking at doing is to install new measures in the bathroom, where a lot of water is wasted. It could mean some new piping or asking customers to be more aware,” he began. “And also, I fully expect that drinking fountains would be shutdown and that water prices could increase or we could ask customers to bring in their own water if they want. We have to be flexible, think about the environment, but also our customers’ experience.”

With rain not in the forecast through the end of the month, according to, many residents are aware that the fun time in the sun may come at a cost.

“It’s kind of tough to be out here really just enjoying the sun and not worrying about anything while the lack of rain may mean that people start to have to ration water and be really hurt by this, so it is frustrating if you think about it in the long run,” said Chris, 31-year-old freelance writer.

For him and others, it is a combination of hoping for rain while soaking up the record warmth.

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