The little lights glow gently into the early evening; the two cozily illuminated glass cottages in the courtyard of Poststuben in Bensheim-Auerbach in southern Hesse resemble welcoming islands.
“The idea came from the gastro-object Mediamatic Eten in Amsterdam, which I read about in a trade magazine,” explains co-owner Sonja Schittenhelm, who has even gained additional outdoor space as a result. Finding the right greenhouses was not that easy. They had to have two skylights that open and a space-saving sliding door, be made of real glass and have decent quality. Thanks to Corona, the two to three weeks delivery time promised turned into twelve. Meanwhile, the houses are in place and have been very popular despite cooler temperatures. “Although they are heated with infrared heaters, it is still an outdoor area. The air is circulating and that is how it should be,” emphasizes Sonja Schittenhelm. In general, what matters most is safety first. At 64.5 square feet (6m2), the cottages are quite spacious; however, services stays near the doors as much as possible. “Our menu also includes the request that if it gets crowded, the guests should personally hand us their plates. That’s working great,” she says.
Steffen Heumann, owner of Pier 6 in Bremerhaven, is also happy about well-mannered, cooperative guests. His motto is, inside is the new outside. Since he cannot simply use his waterfront terrace in the cool season, he has moved the advantages of eating outdoors to indoors without further ado and ensures safety through robust ventilation. “True, this means it’s rather dark,” he admits. “The guests are expected to wear their jackets at the table during the ventilation periods, which is what the politicians stipulate anyway because of Corona.” But it’s not as bad as it maybe sounds. The heating is on and the fresh air circulation is warm as well. Heumann also strongly advocated to gain acceptance. “We feel with you!” he wrote in his newsletter “I wanted to point out that we are also freezing in our blouses and shirts,” he emphasizes. “I would like to make the guests aware that it is possible to eat at responsible restaurants!” The message has been well-received. “Most people think it’s great!”
Only outdoors – that’s currently the name of the game at März, a restaurant in Berlin. Simply using the indoor space with less seating is not cost-effective. Therefore, you can now sit outside and relax next to wonderfully warm heaters. For three months, owner Mirko Meuche and a heating installer friend of his worked on the cozy concept. They integrated discarded heaters into custom-made wooden benches, which were placed on their sides and connected with pipes. The heaters are powered by a propane gas heated water tank on the terrace. They also didn’t forget about antifreeze. Winter can come! “The guests are enthusiastic and find the benches considerably more pleasant than outdoor patio heaters,” Meuche is pleased to report.
Anna Maria Maaß, managing director of the Restaurant Gendarmerie in Berlin Mitte, also proves that you can tackle this problem without using outdoor patio heaters. Here the guests get comfortably warm on the terrace with the help of heating pads. However, these are not just your run-of-the-mill heating pads! They chose the heatme model with an intelligent sensor system that automatically activates heating as soon as a guest sits on the pillow and turns it off after they get up. The powerful rechargeable battery ensures that the pillow reaches a comfortable 104 degree Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) in no time. The cushions were designed by Heatscope and BF Engineering and are available from Moonich. “The idea took off like a rocket,” says Maaß about the media response. He is also pleased about the significantly higher number of patrons and guests who can now stay much longer and fully enjoy their meal.
Concepts that allow guests to safely use the outdoor area in winter are just as international as Covid itself. At Maxwell’s in Islip, New York, two comfortably lit, rustic igloos made of transparent plastic invite you to linger – but only for two hours. During this time you book an igloo for up to eight people for 150 dollars. This price includes the first round of drinks and your very own waiter. A special igloo meal makes the event come full circle. When the two hours are up, everything is disinfected. Safety first!
At the Aurum Food & Wine restaurant in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, they plan to soon set up yurts. These are special restaurant yurts that look particularly romantic in the evening when light shimmers through the fabric walls, which can be seen from the outside. To make things worthwhile from a financial standpoint, there is a minimum booking price equivalent to 430 euro for the eight-person tents, 680 euros on the weekend.
Being outside inside – that’s what visitors to the young gastronomic and cultural center CityU market in the heart of Bogotà, Colombia can experience. Here, transparent dome tents promise a comfortable outdoor environment, even if it rains!
In short, lockdown is not the end, but rather the best time to come up with exciting outdoor space innovations that you normally wouldn’t have time for when it’s business like usual. Think big and keep going is the motto. And don’t forget, professionals can also melt the hearts of guests in the fresh air!