Outdoor Dining in Winter – Not As Crazy As it Sounds

With COVID limitations in place, it’s still difficult for restaurants to offer in-house dining services. The CDC notes that spread may be exacerbated in an enclosed space. Many state governments have stopped in-house dining because of the implications, only allowing outdoor gatherings with enough space for social distancing. In the summer or warmer regions, that’s not such a huge issue. However, when the temperature drops to freezing, outdoor dining seems like a fool’s errand. Some businesses are seeing this as a chance to innovate, offering outdoor dining in the winter that’s not as bad as it first sounds. With a little bit of innovation, even outdoor dining in the cold of winter seems like it could be fun.

Tiki Storage Pods

In Indianapolis, Nick Warner, owner of the tiki bar Strange Bird, is experimenting with a new take on outdoor dining that’s quite innovative. Nick has started renting storage pods that can be used for outdoor dining. The pods come fully themed for a tiki bar experience and even has a space heater. The doors are usually left open to ensure comfortable air-flow. The response on social media for the innovative solution to outdoor dining has been impressive. Nick notes that they’ve been booked up for a week with orders for the pods.

Winterization of Restaurants

With Indiana restaurants looking for ways to make COVID-friendly dining spaces, the city of Indianapolis has stepped up. Visit Indy has stated that their “Ready for Winter” program aids restaurants purchase equipment to make their outdoor dining experience better. The city offers up to $2,500 in grants to businesspeople. Over 100 locations within the city have applied to take advantage of the assistance thus far. Outdoor dining seems to be working in Indiana since no COVID contact tracing has come back to any established Indiana restaurant to date.

Sanitization a Necessity

Nick’s storage pod solution does have its drawbacks, but many of them can be managed. He states that after each rental, their company spends a long time sanitizing every surface. The open door allows for easy circulation in each pod, ensuring that no stagnant air remains within the enclosed space. Nick also uses a leaf-blower on the interior before they start sanitizing anything to ensure no residual particles or pathogens remain inside. Despite how it sounds, Nick’s idea seems to be working wonders.

Settling Into a Different Rhythm

There won’t be many cozy, indoor gatherings around a massive turkey in a restaurant this year for Christmas. While there may be the hope of a vaccine, it’s still a little way off. Social distancing and outdoor dining may need to remain vital steps in ensuring our families’ safety for some time. Yet entrepreneurs like Nick Warner have managed to show us that just because we’re stuck in an outdoor dining experience doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. Restaurants are embracing alternative methods of dealing with the COVID crisis, and we’ll probably have to do the same since it’s better than taking a chance on getting sick.