Local Restaurants Adapt to Winter Dining


Rebecca Herzberg

Tequila Sunrise has set up string lights and igloos to keep its guests as comfortable as possible.

Kate Boswell

Throughout the pandemic, restaurants have struggled with the challenges of staying open and finding a safe way to operate while considering the safety of customers. It was somewhat easier in the summer when outdoor dining was common and preferred by many. However, as the weather started to get colder, the comfort level of many people decreased. There were many questions as to whether or not restaurants would be able to function and continue to be a safe environment for members of the community. Many restaurants were able to work with the town to create a safe environment that fitted the requirements and kept dining safe and warm for guests. It is easy to notice the greenhouses, igloos and heaters spread throughout town creating warm spaces for people to enjoy their food. 

Restaurants have taken different approaches to facing the harsh realities of winter outdoor dining. The owner of Tequila Sunrise, Rob Gorsline, explained how “The mayor and Village Administrators have made it easy for the restaurants to adapt and in turn Larchmont has become a year round outdoor dining destination. There really is nothing like it in any other Westchester town!” Tequila Sunrise is just one of the many restaurants working tirelessly to follow state guidelines and create a special place for customers. Larchmont has taken great strides to ensure safety and enjoyment for everyone. 

However, no matter how easy restaurants have made the changes look, there were many challenges to overcome. Both older businesses and newer ones alike struggled; from delayed openings, not enough outdoor spaces, and strict guidelines, it is amazing how well restaurants have adapted. Billy Bishop, the owner of the new Billy & Pete’s Social, explained how their opening was delayed due to the lockdown but they were able to find a way to offer take out and eventually open their sit-down dining to the community. Bishop explained that the “Town of Mamaroneck worked closely with us to enable us to use the parking spaces in front and on the side and put tables outside.” His, like many other restaurant owners, main concern was finding a balance between efficiency, safety, and providing a good time for customers. 

The igloos and heaters acted as a perfect solution for winter dining. Indoor dining was only allowed at fifty percent capacity, so finding outdoor space was critical for restaurants who wanted to keep business high. By keeping the igloos clean and sanitary between uses, restaurants have been quite successful with the new dining norms. Though the outdoor dining has been an overall success, there are still obstacles that restaurants are working to overcome. It is challenging for servers to transport hot food outside to the igloos without it getting cold en route, Bishop explained. Adapting to serving people within the igloos was also a new situation for servers. Different restaurants are being creative to find new solutions as new challenges present themselves. For example, Tequila Sunrise has turned unused indoor seating space into a serving station, “so instead of the servers having to walk all the way to the kitchen to get those items they can just grab them there, saving time and energy.” 

Regardless of the challenges that the winter outdoor dining spaces may present, people seem to love the igloos and greenhouses. Bishop says “people like the opportunity to still dine outdoors in winter months!”  At Tequila Sunrise, the response to the igloos has also been positive, Gorsline explained that “guests have loved the igloos, it’s warm and private, they feel safe while also being able to enjoy a night out. We take reservations for them and they have been getting completely booked up several days in advance.” Many members of the community are eager to try out the igloos and support local businesses in any way they can. 

As for the future and what’s to come, it is likely the igloos will continue to return for future winters based upon all of the positive feedback. Gorsline says “I think this pandemic has forever changed the restaurant business and not all for the bad. Having new outdoor dining options will be the norm for many years even after the pandemic has ended.” Bishop had similar thoughts, explaining that “they look good, especially at night time. I think we will continue to use them for years to come.” Tequila Sunrise and Billy & Pete’s are just two of the many restaurants that have adapted with the new outdoor winter dining bubbles and are proof of just how successful they can be.