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.
Check out the Top 60 Innovative Designs
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.
Image: Studio Herron I Instagram
4. Round plastic tents at Cafe du Soleil, NYC
The French restaurant on the Upper West Side has installed private snow globes to shield diners from the wind, while allowing them to dine in a festive-style bubble.
Image: Cafe du Soleil I Instagram
5. Geodesic Domes at East Eats, Detroit
East Eats in Detroit, born out of the coronavirus pandemic, is composed entirely of 10 geodesic domes with seats for up to eight people per group, and is serviced by a food-truck kitchen.
Image: East Eats I Instagram
6. Dining Pods at Craft in Birmingham, UK
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.
Image: Craft I Instagram
7. Winter woolies - wrap up warm
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.
Image: Knits and Dreams I Instagram
8. Igloos at Woods Hill Pier, Boston
Customers get to dine out whilst soaking up the harbour views and socially distancing in these creative pop-ups in Boston.
9. Open flames at Vu Rooftop Bar, Chicago
Outdoor fires only add to the ambience of outdoor seating areas, making them a cheerful place to be this winter.
Image: VU Rooftop I Instagram
10. Igloos at Fulton Market, NYC
Nearly two dozen igloos and greenhouse-style pods line the streets at Fulton Market in New York helping a selection of businesses stay afloat amid the ongoing pandemic.
Image: sille14 I Instagram
11. Ferris Wheel - Costes, Hungary
Hungarian restaurant, Costes, has quite literally re-invented the wheel, serving a socially distanced four-course meal on the Budapest Eye.
Image: Costes Downtown I Instagram
12. Heated Cushions
Keeping customers warm could be as simple as microwaveable cushions containing a warming gel (like foot and hand warmers) and are already used in some cafés and restaurants in Europe.
13. Dining in a Tent
Another popular innovation has seen restaurants erecting larger, marquee style dining tents, to maximise their outdoor dining space and keep customers safe outside.
Image: flyingtina69 I Instagram
14. Heated Smart Jackets
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.
15. Bring Your Own Blanket
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.
16. Dine in a Gondola
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.
17. Fire Ring Cooking
And finally, what better way to turn outdoor dining into an experience, than cooking with fire? Not only can diners keep warm round fire rings, they can even toast marshmallows on the embers. Perfect.
Instagram: The full haggis I Instagram