As temperatures dip in some part of the world and the coronavirus pandemic forces diners outdoors, restaurants are getting inventive to shield their guests from the elements while keeping them warm, safe and socially distanced.
With that in mind, we've rounded up a few of the ideas being floated around the world, which are a more creative departure from the average, ubiquitous heat lamp.
1. Cozy Cabins - City of Chicago Winter Dining Challenge Winner
The city of Chicago has released the three winners of its Winter Dining Challenge - a competition seeking ideas for safe (and warm) outdoor dining this season. The three winners, who will each receive $5,000, were selected by a panel of restaurant owners, chefs, servers and architects.
Cozy Cabins, was the winning entry from Amy Young, created by design firm ASD | SKY and inspired by ice-fishing huts. It features adjoining open-front 'cabins' with radiant floor heating, which fit within the footprint of a standard parking space.
2. Bloc Party - Chicago Winter Dining Challenge Winner
Block Party, from urban designer and planner Neil Reindel, is a flexible outdoor dining solution that can fit into a variety of locations. It features cube-shaped modules that can fit in parking lanes, and comes complete with seats and heat.
3. Heated Tables - Chicago Winter Dining Challenge Winner
Heated Tables was the third winner, submitted by graphic designer Ellie Henderson, and is modelled on the common Japanese Kotatsu table. The heated tables are typically used to keep warm indoors but can be modified for outdoor use.
Birmingham's first ever canal-side garden restaurant at the International Convention Centre features five outdoor dining pods for 8-10 people, complete with heating, air conditioning and service from a personal butler.
As they say, there's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. If you know you're going to be spending the evening outdoors, master the layering technique for a toastier evening. Who better to learn from than the Nordics? Here's how to dress warm in Finland.
Try staying warm in person, with this high-tech solution. SOL heated smart jackets adjust the internal temperature of your jacket with carbon fibre heat panels that can heat up to 50°C, all controlled by a smartphone app. Read all about their new creation on Kickstarter.
Blankets are the die-hard practical solution, with many restaurants supporting a 'bring your own' policy, while other restaurants are using it as a marketing and merchandising opportunity, selling branded blankets to allow diners to cocoon themselves up warmly while they eat.
Dining in a gondola has to be the ideal intimate dining solution. The Town of Mountain Village near Telluride, Colorado, has come up with a novel one: a collection of 20 dining cabins made from refurbished gondola cars complete with heating and ventilation systems and cushioned seats, scattered in the plaza. Meanwhile in Switzerland, you can always huddle around a warming pot of fondue in a mobile gondola.