Restaurants looking to survive during COVID-19 have had to be especially creative, not with their eats, but with their seats. With restrictions—or outright bans—on indoor dining in many places, restaurateurs have turned to the great outdoors to serve diners.
Numerous eateries across the country built out or refurbished their outdoor space in warm-weather months, expanding into closed streets and creating patios in parking lots to increase capacity while adhering to social distancing rules.
But how do you fight a pandemic and mother nature at the same time?
Once temperatures dipped, dining spots started outfitting their patios with windscreens, adding firepits and heaters, and fashioning plastic-bubble-type structures for private outdoor dining.
Italian restaurant A16 in Oakland, CA erected a wooden frame from which heated tents hang. New York City bistro Cafe du Soleil and Seattle trattoria San Fermo are but two restaurants featuring private plastic domes outside their doors.
But while these options provide some shelter, they can’t keep out the chill on the coldest nights and in the coldest places. Alpenglobe has a solution for that.
“Part stargazing observatory, part gondola carriage, part secluded conclave for making memories with friends and family,” the Alpenglobe is a wood-and-plexiglass structure that offers the benefit of climate control, with infrared heating and fresh air recirculation, as well as independent sound systems and variable mood lighting. The Utah-based company says the domes are able to withstand heavy winds and snow without taking away from the panoramic views. They seat up to eight people.
Alpenglobes can currently be found in several cold-weather spots, including: Cafe Galleria a casual Italian eatery in Midway, UT; Butcher’s Chop House, a steakhouse in Park City, UT; classic French restaurant La Marmotte in Telluride, CO; French country mainstay La Caille in Sandy, UT; premier ski resort Montage Deer Valley; and Stein Eriksen Lodge, a luxury Park City ski lodge and Utah’s only Forbes Five-Star hotel and spa.
“Alpenglobe was already in progress prior to the pandemic, and when the restaurant shutdowns started to happen, it was just a coincidence,” Russ Lowe, Director of Brand & Marketing, told us. “But it crystallized the idea around the globes also potentially being a solution for alternative dining options, that could provide some physical distancing for people within the same family or close friend groups, in a sanitizable space, with fresh air recirculation. We’ve heard from hundreds of people that they’ve loved the chance to get out of the house and go out, but still feel like they were doing it more responsibly by dining with those who were already in their immediate ‘Covid bubble.’”
It’s up to proprietors to determine usage; Stein Eriksen Lodge caps seating in their four Alpenglobes on the deck of the Mountain Lodge, offering shelter from the elements with a panoramic Deer Valley views, at six people. La Caille has seating ranging from two to six in their three Alpenglobe domes.
“Alpenglobe doesn’t operate the globes, nor have any say in how any of our customers will choose to use them; We simply refer people to the CDC website, and encourage people to be responsible and follow local laws and health and safety guidelines,” says Lowe. “One of our customers, Cafe Galleria, has a 30-minute sanitizing and ventilation period between each seating, and that has seemed to be a great model that’s worked very well for them so far.”
Reservations and food minimums are also at the discretion of individual owners, not that any of the restrictions have limited interest. In fact, if you want the inverted snow. globe experience this winter, you better hurry. Cafe Galleria reportedly had 1,500 reservations within 24 hours of going live in October and interest has not waned in 2021. La Caille and Stein Eriksen Lodge both report being booked out for dinner weeks in advance.