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Cool ways to dine outdoors this winter

Restaurants around Indy are getting creative to cater to outdoor dining during the cold weather.

INDIANAPOLIS — With temperatures dropping, restaurants are getting creative when it comes to outdoor dining.

Public Greens, which is along the Monon Trail in Broad Ripple, just invested in several "greenhouses" for diners.

The greenhouses, which seat two to three people, are made of sturdy plastic. Manager Katie Pittman said they "do a good job blocking the wind and when the sun is out, they warm up quite a bit."

Pittman said the restaurants provide single-use blankets to keep customers cozy. She said the greenhouses are sanitized each time they're used and that windows allow for air flow.

"Everyone wants to feel comfortable and safe eating, not get those winter blues and get out the house a bit," she said.

Urban-Vines Winery & Brewery in Westfield is bringing back its plastic igloos for the third year in a row. Before, they were just for fun, but now with the pandemic?

"It's critical for us this winter," said Marc Rupenthal, head winemaker. "We're limited on space right now in the indoor sections of the facility due to social distancing."

The three heated igloos, lounge-like inside, seat up to 8 people. Prices range from $30 to $50 for a two-hour stay.

Rupenthal said they're "using HEPA filters to filter the air and we have a break between groups to clean out any virus potentially in the air."

The igloos open for the season Sunday, Nov. 1 and Rupenthal said they're booked nearly solid for the next few months. They hope to buy more igloos.

"Demand has been so high, we want to be able to supply enough for everyone to have space out here," he said.

Cafe Patachou on the north side is also offering outdoor dining this winter for those uneasy about eating indoors.

"We have our pop-up tent and are creating a little ambience with the topiaries and greenery and have top and ground heaters," said Maddy Dickerson, marketing director. 

Richard Foran, enjoying lunch with others Wednesday, said he's glad to have the option to "still sit outside."

Asked about the temperature inside the tent, Foran said, "As you can tell it's really warm and I'm in shorts."

Dickerson and the others said the plans are to keep the outdoor dining options available as long as people are comfortable and using them.