No matter our intention when we pick up the phone or pen an email these days, it seems every conversation with restaurant people eventually turns to the same thing: Winter. COVID. Patios. Along the way, we’ve heard a number of inventive and creative solutions that owners and managers are have put together to help keep business humming along over the winter.
The latest is at Bigsby’s Folly, a wine tasting room and event space in Denver. The Five Points spot was lucky enough to boast two patios, each with a capacity of about 50 guests. Now that winter’s on the horizon, it’s shuttered the space in front of its building and is focusing on its back patio, which is more private and spacious. Co-owner Marla Yetka initially installed a tent, but says it just wasn’t standing up to the weather, so she bought a carport instead. “[Co-owner] Chad thought I was crazy when I ordered this thing,” she says. Bigby’s has since tricked out the space with curtains, string lights, and a disco ball and plans on adding two clear vinyl walls so the spot will still be considered outdoor dining. It won’t be weatherproof, but Yetka’s confident it will do the job on all but the coldest days.
But it’s what Yetka is planning for the interior that’s even more unique; she will be dividing Bigsby’s interior space with a glass wall and steel-framed sliding doors (think the kind of entrances you see in sleek, high-end hotels). With the two rooms, she’ll be able to double her indoor capacity from 50 people (which is 20 percent of the spot’s usual capacity of 250) to 100. “I thought, ‘Let’s just carve up the space differently rather than spend money on a tent,'” she says. “We’re lucky because not many places have an 8,000-square-foot, one-room space.”
What works (or doesn’t) for your space? ! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to firstname.lastname@example.org.