Easy(ish) and Cheap(er) Outdoor Dining Solutions for Winter

You don't have to go the design process alone.

Round room, interior of a yurt with a round conference table and chairs around it.
Yurts look great, but they may not work for your space or budget. / Liu Junrong © 123RF.com

There are a ton of great ideas for outdoor winter seating—if you have plenty of coin to spend, and if you started hoarding propane ten months ago. We’re guessing both of those are unlikely. So what to do when those adorable plastic greenhouses that snugly seat two start fogging up between the amuse and the app? And when you’ve watched six hours worth of webinars and all you come away with is, “Check with your local fire department!”?

The fine folks at the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) are attempting to address these obstacles with a Winter Outdoor Dining Workshop (or “charrette,” if you’re feeling fancy) on Monday, October 19. Unlike typical Zoom meetings (you mainline coffee, get up to let the dog out, and listen halfheartedly while muttering, “That’s great for you, but…”) this gathering will be intensely interactive.

The CRA’s bringing in public officials (including Governor Polis as wells as leadership at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Office of Economic Development, and Colorado Tourism Office) as well as local public health and fire department officials; architects; general contractors; landscape architects; engineers; building code officials; and restaurateurs. Participants will be divided into groups with at least one pro from every field and will have to come up with ideas for winter seating in one of eight locations: a parking lot; an urban street (both open and closed to traffic); a rooftop; an urban sidewalk in public right-of-way; nearby public and private property; and a mountain resort street.

This may take you back to the days of group projects in school, but the focus is on developing (relatively) affordable and easy-to-implement ideas that are both practical and adhere to all applicable local regulations. The workshop runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; visit cooutdoordining.org for details and email  info@corestaurant.org if you’re insterested in participating.

As part of this effort, the CRA is also compiling a list of funding and grant options for Colorado bars and restaurants to fund their outdoor winter seating solutions; more info on that is forthcoming.

Let us know what resources you need help with, whether it’s finding vendors for outdoor seating, grant programs, or something else. Email askus@diningout.com


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