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Igloo Dining: Creative Outdoor Dining Experiences for Retail

The tempestuous year of 2020 is gratefully behind us, although the budding 2021 has seen the worst pandemic days yet. Restrictions vary regarding indoor dining leaving predominately dine-in restaurants in a limbo until vaccines are widely available. Scrambling to discover the new normal and get creative, restaurants are finding ways to keep customers eating outdoors, safe and warm. 


As winter days creep colder, outdoor seating will be needing a heated update within the confines of COVID safe protocols. A heater alone will not be enough to keep outdoor seating comfortable, keeping customers away and restaurants empty. 

Thanks to creative minds and innovative solutions, there may be hope for outdoor seating… in an igloo. 

Screen Shot 2021-02-08 at 8.19.53 AM

Set up in the space designated for outside seating glow cozy little transparent igloos. Diners can reserve their own private igloo, staying warm and separate from other diners. Most igloos only fit about one table, accommodating about six people. Between guests, sanitation is paramount, not only for the surfaces but also for the air. Hot air cannons are used to clear the air inside the structures, hoping air movement and time between guests will alleviate the breathing space of any infectious particles. 


Other alternative outdoor seating options include greenhouses and yurts. The idea is the same, to create a space outside for comfortable winter season seating. Ideally, one table only should be admitted per structure. Experts in infectious disease maintain that outdoor, enclosed structures allowing multiple tables have higher risks than indoor seating as a result of poor ventilation. 

Most alternative outdoor seating structures have heating, which is a plus for circulation. Richard Corsi, an expert in air quality, assured, “If they have heaters, then you're going to actually have pretty good ventilation," Corsi says, "The air will rise up when it's heated, and then cool air will come in.” Heating, then, will not only be vital to keep warm, but also to promote air circulation. 

Expectedly, most restaurants have limited space in their designated outdoor areas. As a result, cities and/or local businesses partner to create “yurt villages” in parking lots or other large areas to populate with yurts for expanded outdoor seating. 

Restaurants adapting to the outdoor seating due to indoor seating restrictions may not have many other choices, particularly as the coronavirus continues to obliterate past norms for eating out. All in all, igloos, yurts, and greenhouses may be the astute trend for now to keep dine in restaurants afloat. 

The spectacle of dining in an igloo, or other outdoor seating structure, provides a little magic in the beginning of a dreary year. With realistic safety measures in place, such as limiting the numbers in the igloos, intense sanitation and ventilation, restaurants can continue joyfully serving food in an enchanting atmosphere. 

Do you have the perfect restaurant vacancy, but not great tenant prospects? Despite COVID cutting restaurant populations down, there are plenty of restaurants that have made creative adjustments, resulting in expanding locations. Schedule a virtual meeting with a Retailsphere professional to find an expanding restaurant that will fit the requirements for your vacancy.

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Tags: In Depth, Coronavirus

Written by Brooke Sanchez