LANSING, Mich. — As coronavirus cases continue to spike, some states are reinstating restrictions on indoor dining. Restaurants already reeling with huge financial strain are trying to find innovative solutions to keep their doors open. As Ash-Har Quraishi reports, some are thinking outside the box and into a bubble.
As temperatures drop restaurant owners are scrambling for for ways to keep patrons coming back to eat in. Mike Whatley, VP State and Local Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “what you're seeing local mayors trying to incentivize and help restaurants winterize their outdoor spaces and really doing whatever they can to encourage outdoor dining.
”But with indoor dining shut down in many places across the country geodasic domes or igloos, tents and mini greenhouses are popping up to help keep diners warm and safe.
Forty-nine percent of full-service restaurant operators say they are taking actions like installing tents or patio heaters to extend their outdoor dining season. National restaurant association restaurant owner Sophie Huterstein and her staff built 14 - 4 x 6 greenhouses for outside her restaurant. The idea was inspired by an installation in Amsterdam.
Each one can accommodate two to four people and is helping sustain her business while indoor dining is restricted. Cleaning safety experts say frequent cleaning, ventilation and spacing out use are key to preventing COVID spread.
California resident Sarah Moffat dined inside a greenhouse for the first time. Sarah Moffat greenhouse diner “I don't know if we're gonna have a sense of normalcy ever again. but to have moments that you can share with friends and your close loved ones in a safe environment is kind of amazing.”
The city of Chicago challenged designers from across the country to propose winter dining solutions.
Atlanta-based national design firm ASD sky created a modular cabin inspired by ice fishing huts that would fit inside the footprint of a parking space. The goal - create a reason to stay instead of taking out. Nicole Grillet shared “people just want an experience that’s what we're lacking right now. so that was the driver behind you know creating this idea.”
Urban development designers Neil Ren-Dell and Flo Mettetal were inspired by legos with their “block party” concept. the compact, heated two-seater eat-in modules can be deployed and retracted. “Much like how you would previously push tables together the idea would be that these frames of two could be connected in increments of two and you could have larger or smaller groups based on that.”
It’s something they say could be utilized anywhere in the country. “It was really meant to be user friendly and kind of fit the needs of the restaurant wherever it is.” With forty percent of restaurant owners worried about staying in business through February, many are banking on futuristic dine-in concepts to help them brave the uncertain winter ahead.
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