Warrnambool's weather is playing havoc with outdoor dining with some patrons forced to leave their meals behind to escape the wild weather.
Restaurants with outdoor dining have adapted to seat up to 20 people at a time outside under the current COVID-19 regulations, while ten diners are permitted inside.
Street works as part of the city's CBD renewal which began in 2016, have enabled restaurants to establish and improve their outdoor seating capacity.
Bojangles owner Simon Mugavin was forced to cancel outside bookings on Monday night due to bad weather.
"It's demoralising when you have to cancel bookings of people who are making the effort and trying to keep our community going because we can't accommodate them comfortably enough to serve them with our climate," Mr Mugavin said.
He said Bojangles had plans to add to existing heating, and erect new pergolas and screens for help protect diners from the elements, but that it was getting harder and harder to operate under constantly changing rules.
Images owner Jonathan Dodwell said it had been great having the outdoor space as an option.
"It's been tremendously helpful but this is Warrnambool and the weather is so up and down," he said. "It can get very tricky.
"We had a very difficult situation last weekend. We had a heap of people out there and the weather just caved in on us and most of them had to cancel and go because it was too bad and we couldn't bring them inside. It's just so unpredictable.
"Its the wind in Warrnambool that really wreaks havoc. It was impossible, we had glasses smashing and being blown off tables and all sorts of stuff. It wasn't much fun."
He said he has brought in extra heating. "Our savior has been outdoor dining."
"We're certainly making the best of it and getting as many people out there that we can. We're doing three sittings and weather permitting it's been good. It wouldn't be worth opening without the outdoor dining."
He said while there were some people willing to "put up with it and be brave" there was a certain amount who "just weren't interested".
"It's amazing what people are doing. Most people are just happy to be out and about and they'll take any seats they can get really."
Tilly Divine owner Rachael Street said she was limited if it was raining or windy, with a sensor automatically closing her electric awning if it became too windy.
"It's all very weather dependent so it's frustrating," Ms Street said.
"People have paid for their meals and then it starts pouring rain, the rain was actually going sideways the other day."
She said some diners refused to dine outside if an indoor table wasn't available.
"We've had problems when we've had our numbers inside and people sitting outside eating then all of a sudden it starts pouring rain and their food and themselves are getting wet. You can't say 'come in'.
"More people than I thought are happy to sit outside, even when it's cold. I do think part of that is people trying their best to support business."
She said she didn't want to see customers sitting out in bad conditions but had no choice.
"We've got to make it viable to stay open. I'm pretty upset we have to do this for another five weeks, until October 26 (when restrictions are due to ease)."
Council's city growth director Andrew Paton said since October last year it had supported more than 40 businesses with their outdoor dining offerings, helping the sector increase its ability to trade as COVID-19 restrictions took effect.
He said as summer approached, council would continue to work with city businesses to expand their outdoor dining.
"While this option may not exist for all businesses, it is great to see so many Warrnambool businesses activate this option where possible," Mr Paton said.
"Despite less than cheery weather over the weekend it was great to see outdoor dining in high demand and supporting local businesses.
"In particular the renewal of Liebig Street was designed to support such activity and it is pleasing to see outdoor dining day and night adding to the overall vibrancy of the city centre where businesses have taken up the opportunity."
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