Igloo dining drives business at local restaurants

Igloos at the Cherry Valley Hotel located at 2299 Cherry Valley Rd. SE, Newark, Ohio, December 17, 2021. By Preston Harmon | Lantern Reporter

Some restaurants in central Ohio offer a unique dining experience during the winter.

Local restaurants are taking advantage of outdoor dining spaces, which would otherwise be unoccupied during the freezing Ohio winter, by setting up large heated igloos that can accommodate up to eight people. Brad Hampu, owner of Amato’s Wood-Fired Pizza in Delaware, said his restaurant had started offering igloo seating to increase seating during the winter months.

“People were worried about going out to eat,” Hampu said. “I thought it would be a good way to give people reassurance that they were safe with each other.”

Hampu said Amato set up four igloos last winter after statewide COVID-19 protocols limited its hosting capacity. He said the 32 extra seats provided by the igloos make customers feel comfortable and increase the restaurant’s capacity.

The igloos have remained successful despite staffing challenges over the past year, Hampu said.

“It helped our bottom line tremendously,” Hampu said. “Any time you can add 32 seats, it’s definitely beneficial.”

Reservations to dine in an igloo at Amato are not necessary, and Hampu said the igloos will remain available until the weather warms up. The igloos operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

“A lot of places reserve them, but we wanted as many people as possible to use them,” Hampu said. “We are right at the main downtown intersection – they are very visible and lit.”

Mary Dimitrijeska, marketing manager for the Craftsman Kitchen & Terrace restaurant at Newark’s Cherry Valley Hotelsaid his restaurant started offering igloo seating in December 2021.

Craftsman Kitchen & Terrace reopened for the first time since 2020 last December — after being closed due to the pandemic — with newly installed igloos that can accommodate two to six customers, Dimitrijeska said. She said the igloos had generated much-needed publicity for the Cherry Valley Hotel, as many were unaware of the reopening.

Igloos have been in such demand at Craftsman Kitchen & Terrace that Dimitrijeska said it has added more dates for reservations, with availability now through the first two Fridays and Saturdays in March.

Craftsman Kitchen & Terrace’s igloo dining option has a curated menu and normally costs $65 per person, or $75 per person on Valentine’s Day weekend, Dimitrijeska said. Craftsman is open Thursday through Saturday and igloo reservations can be made on the reservations app Resy.

Hampu and Dimitrijeska said both restaurants plan to continue igloo dining for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a cool trend, and I think it’ll be around for a little while,” Dimitrijeska said. “We will definitely do it again next year.”

Comments are closed.