Monday, January 18, 2021

The Best Outdoor Dining During a Winter Pandemic: Keeping Customers Warm and Cozy

It is definitely winter time in America, and all across our northern states and in neighboring Canada, restaurants are choosing how to stay open for

curbside pickup, delivery only, operating indoors using only a fraction of their capacity, winter hibernation, or closing their business altogether. 

We are spotlighting a few restaurateurs, in select cities, who are choosing to battle the elements and have come up with some very creative ways

of keeping their customers safely eating outdoors while protected from Mother Nature.


After a month-long, city-wide mandate closed all restaurants, bars, and breweries in December, businesses are cautiously reopening at 25%

capacity for indoor dining.  But a few of them were able to stay open, outdoors, for the month of December.  Bob Gross, owner/manager

of Inlet Tower PubHouse  started planning last summer.  He purchased several domes, or igloos, that combined with extra ramping and heating,

has enabled him to remain open utilizing the additional outdoor space he can use year round.


Igloos are not new to Buffalo -- the first ones opened pre pandemic in 2018 at Tappo Restaurant’s downtown rooftop.  But restaurant owners have

more recently added greenhouses and hut dining  into this mix.  With lots of winter options for locals and visitors, Foursquare Buffalo City Guide

published a list of 15 restaurants for outdoor winter dining earlier this month.


With $500,000 from DoorDash to help support outdoor winterization, the Office of the Mayor  sponsored a first-ever Winter Dining Challenge for

community members to reimagine the outdoor winter dining experience in Chicago.  An Outdoor Block Party, Cozy Cabins and Japanese-style

Heated Tables were the 3 winners out of more than 600 entrants. The winners each received $5,000 and were chosen by a team of judges that

included architects, designers, chefs, restaurateurs, and servers.

New York City

Currently, restaurants are limited to outdoor dining, takeout and delivery.  Which means restaurant owners in Manhattan and the other boroughs have become quite creative with their outdoor seating overtaking sidewalks and parking. It’s a different city during the pandemic with few pedestrians and a lot less auto traffic.  Eater NY has compiled a list of 15 Restaurants for Cozy Outdoor Dining in Manhattan featuring outdoor tents, cabanas, individual booths and more.  They will be updating the list  throughout the winter, so check back often.

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