Outdoor dining has made a big difference for restaurants in Boston's North End.
"It's doing fantastic. I mean, I think that's what people want," said Adrienne DeStefano of Cafe Paradiso.
But this week's heat wave — which has temperatures rising into the 90s and the heat index into the 100s — has put a damper on it.
"People don't want to sit outside. I mean the humidity," said Sara Picariello-McGee of Modern Pastry. "You're standing here and you're sweating."
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Those who did choose al fresco dining Thursday thought about it first.
"I would prefer to sit indoors, cause I'm still sweating right now, but I mean, in the shade, it's fine," said Athena Kamita, who's visiting from New Jersey. "As long as I have a drink in front of me, I'm fine."
"Typically, we tend to eat indoors in this kind of weather, but we wanted to get a quick coffee and just sit outdoors in the shade for a little bit," said Ken Hurley of Indiana. "But, yeah, if it was any worse than this, we'd probably be eating indoors."
And it's really not about the heat.
"For me, it isn't as bad. I'm from Scottsdale, Arizona, so the heat's not bad. But the humidity is awful. But in the shade, it's not bad sitting outside," Bill Hurley said.
And this heat wave isn't going to last too much longer.
"At night time, it cools down just a little bit. Even though it's 90, if you're not doing much, they enjoy it. It's still outdoors. And it's still the North End," DeStefano said.
People were out and about despite Thursday the steamy weather.
"It's really, really hot, but I need to lose weight, so I got to do the exercise," said Prenita Kennedy-Lamb of Dorchester.
"There are moments where I hate it, but then I think about when it's winter here and it absolutely sucks, and I try to channel that in and have a positive attitude about it," said Seaport resident Lydia Marzot, who was relaxing at M Street Beach.
There was plenty of room to spread out on the beaches of South Boston and take a dip when the heat got to be too much.
"The water is wonderful and you get a core decrease in your temperature and you feel great," said Debra Poaster of Allston.
Besides the sultry weather, air quality was also thought to be an issue for those outdoors. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection issued an air quality alert, but experts say it wasn’t as bad as predicted.
"It's a moderately polluted day here in Massachusetts," said UMass Amherst Professor Richard Peltier, who studies air pollution. "The air pollution that we deal with on a day like today, and what we're probably going to see in the coming days, is because of what’s called stagnation, The air's not moving very much."