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Denver Restaurants Get Creative With Winterized Outdoor Dining

Denver Restaurants Get Creative With Winterized Outdoor Dining

Winter is coming. There’s no getting around the fact that patio season as we know it will soon come to an end, and with it the opportunity for diners to enjoy the warm weather on expanded restaurant and bar outdoor eating areas, while COVID-related indoor dining capacity remains restricted to 50 percent or up to fifty people (with some exceptions).

Coloradans are a hearty bunch, braving the elements at the Beach at Arapahoe Basin for burgers and beers during ski season, dancing the night away at the annual Icelantic Winter on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and tailgating in the most miserable conditions before Broncos games. But what about a romantic dinner for two under the stars in January, or cocktails with friends during an outdoor Sunday brunch when the wind cuts through your sweater quicker than the first Bloody Mary cuts through the haze of your hangover?

A drive through Denver’s many neighborhoods and restaurant zones reveals that most businesses are still in summer mode, with misters going full blast; umbrellas, tarps and open-sided tents deployed to provide shade; and the occasional patio heater on hand for those evenings when temperatures dip into the 50s. But some businesses are already getting creative in order to keep guests comfortable outside this winter, taking advantage of the City of Denver’s one-year extension of its expanded outdoor seating program, which now allows bars and restaurants to spill out onto parking lots, lawns, sidewalks and traffic lanes through October 2021.

And they may have to get very creative: Larger outdoor seating areas could end up being considered indoors for capacity purposes under recently released guidelines from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. According to those rules, open-sided tents are considered outdoors, as are tents with two opposite sides open; the only

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The Uncertain Promises of Indoor Dining in New York City

The Uncertain Promises of Indoor Dining in New York City

A thousand years ago, on March 11th of this year, I went with a friend to Wu’s Wonton King, a Chinatown gem that since its opening, in 2016, has become famous for, somehow, everything: the glorious array of dim sum, the exquisitely tender barbecued meats, the fishes, eels, and crabs plucked live from tanks in the windows, à la minute. Normally, when I visit Wu’s, it’s with a strategically large group so that we can order all of the above and more, and then bring home whatever our groaning insides can’t fit. On this particular day, I was with just one other person, and we split an uncharacteristically austere order of steamed pork buns and a bowl of noodle soup. We were the only people in the restaurant, which could have been partly attributable to our timing—it was a Wednesday morning, too late to be breakfast but too early to count as an early lunch—but almost certainly also had to do with the encroaching coronavirus pandemic, which was just beginning to make itself known in New York.

By now, it’s hard to recall that brief window of time in New York in early March, between our unfettered pre-pandemic life and the start of public shutdowns and self-quarantining, which we have now been enduring for nearly seven months. Venues in Chinatown had been among the first to experience a decline in business, fuelled by racist fears of the virus, which was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan. But by the time Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a mandated closure of all bars and restaurants—which, after Governor Andrew Cuomo accelerated the original timeline, took effect on March 16th—the entire city was already slowing down, an anti-crescendo of public activity. After my meal at Wu’s, I hugged my friend goodbye

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As winter weather approaches, restaurants get creative with outdoor dining

As winter weather approaches, restaurants get creative with outdoor dining

For many restaurants across the nation, outdoor dining has served as a crucial pivot to recapture business lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced cities to shut down indoor dining to prevent the virus’ spread.

As winter approaches and temperatures drop, restaurants in locations with colder weather are starting to rethink how to keep outdoor dining open.

Research from the National Restaurant Association found 1 in 6 restaurants closed permanently or long term due to the pandemic. And as more states report rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, there’s a fear more restaurants will shut down. Continue reading.

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