Colorado communities get creative with winter dining ideas

State

Mountain Village and TMVOA partnering on winter plaza dining enhancement

DENVER (KDVR) — From tents to yurts and even gondolas, Colorado businesses are getting creative when it comes to winterizing their outdoor dining plans during the pandemic.

According to the Colorado Restaurant Association, there likely isn’t a restaurant in the state that’s not thinking about it.

“Many are likely waiting for state and local regulations to be clarified,” said Laura Shunk, Communication Director for the Colorado Restaurant Association.

Over the summer, businesses like Ratio Beerworks have been able to rely on temporary side-street patio seating.

“If we can do that for the winter, it justifies a pretty big spend,” said Jason Zumbrunnen, co-founder of Ratio Beerworks.

Denver’s temporary outdoor expansion program is set to expire on October 31.

“So we’re starting to look at some realistic big winter tents with big steel. Maybe putting in tens of thousands of dollars into it,” Zumbrunnen said.

Ratio Beerworks also has some really big heaters in the back of its brewery that are rarely used.

According to Zumbrunnen, they’re looking into whether they can vent them out into a side tent to create a really warm atmosphere for guests.

“Yeah, we’ve been looking at creative ways. We started looking at our side yard, first. Because we have that obviously, regardless of permits,” Zumbrunnen said.

In southwest Colorado, the town of Mountain Village started a partnership with the Telluride Village Owners Association to help support restaurants this winter through a different kind of experience.

“It all began because we had some leftover gondola cabins and we thought, ‘It would be cool to change these into dining cars,’” said Zoe Dohnal, Mountain Village Business Development and Sustainability Director.

The town plans to install 20 private dining cabins made from refurbished gondola cars and yurts and place them on its plaza. They’ll include lighting, heating and ventilation.

“Other communities that are thinking of these solutions are now realizing those hurdles. That you can’t just have a tent this winter. It’s not safe and it won’t work. Coming up with those alternatives is I think where people are right now,” Dohnal said.

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