How restaurants are finding new uses for their pandemic purchases


DENVER (KDVR) — As the winter of 2020 approached, restaurant owners had to begin thinking out of the box to find solutions for fitting customers in a warm space that wasn’t inside their building.

Capacity rules limited the number of guests allowed inside. The idea of utilizing greenhouses quickly spread.

Annette Restaurant at Stanley Marketplace was one of the first to construct the plastic enclosures.

“We got the idea from our visit to Amsterdam and decided it would be the perfect solution for us here,” said Nelson Harvey, co-owner of Annette.

Nelson and his wife Caroline had dozens of volunteers help construct the greenhouses they ordered online. Now, many months later, they plan to keep them as an option for customers this summer.

“Our plan is to hold on to the greenhouses and take the sides off,” said Harvey. “We added fans and shades to make them look like summer cabanas. It keeps the seating capacity we currently have.”

Harvey tells FOX31 they will keep an eye on COVID-19 vaccination rates going into the fall to decide if they will keep them for another cold season. If they don’t plan to use them, the restaurant owners will allow their volunteers first grabs at the greenhouses and sell the others.

“We had a lot of inquiries from people that wanted to put one in their backyard and say how convenient they would be,” said Harvey. “It would be great to see them used for their original purpose. We have done a lot of things to retrofit them to make them work for something they weren’t intended for, so it would be great to see them used for their intended purpose.”

Annette isn’t the only local restaurant that has customers asking to use their greenhouses. Cherry Bean Coffee in the Highlands already sold one and gave away two others to be used this summer.

“The deal is if I need it in October, they bring it back. If I don’t, they keep it,” said Simon Lagos, owner of Cherry Bean. “I’m just trying to help out the community.”

Lagos decided to keep at least one greenhouse outside his cafe for now.

“I hope we don’t need it anymore,” said Lagos. “It’s good for us to see something we used to have here is now working somewhere else with our neighbors.”

Elias Parker, who lives just a few blocks away from the cafe, said the offer came at the perfect time.

“We had just been talking with our teacher about gardening in the back and then that same week, he asked if we want one because he was trying to get rid of one,” said Parker. 

Both Parker and Lagos couldn’t be more thrilled about the deal, happy nothing that was purchased for pandemic accommodations went to waste.

“It makes no sense that a greenhouse that could still be used wouldn’t later be used for something else or be put in a dumpster,” said Lagos.

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