Visit Longmont – a nonprofit organization partnered with the city of Longmont to provide community members with information about activities in and around the city – has launched a list of food and beverage businesses with outdoor spaces opened for in-person service.
“We always maintain a summer patio feature, because the patio season is very important for Colorado,” said Makayla Adair, the nonprofit’s marketing and tourism manager.
“As we moved through this strange year, we started seeing a lot of businesses in Longmont in social channels promoting fireplaces, fire pits, and heaters available on the colder days … so we wanted to expand on that and see if other restaurants and establishments were doing the same thing.”
Earlier in December, the organization sent out an email to all of the restaurants, breweries, distilleries and cideries on its list asking to share who was planning to adapt patios or outdoor spaces for winter.
“We just wanted to know who was doing heaters, tents, fire pits, anything goes and got a few responses back. That is how the list initially formed,” said Adair, adding the initial responses prompted interest from other businesses.
Dickens 300 Prime is one of the most centric businesses that has heavily invested in winterizing its patio, according to Adair.
Anthony Sanschagrin, owner of Dickens 300 Prime, said these have been interesting times to operate a business and they have greatly benefitted from a strong local following and a quite supportive community.
“Tenting the space has worked out well, giving guests the opportunity to still come out and enjoy the space,” said Sanschagrin. “We are just so thankful for the community support, that’s one of our biggest things, it was humbling to see this when we came to this town with such a tight knit community.”
Sanschagrin took over ownership on Mar. 1 of this year with his wife, Noella, after moving to Longmont.
They have installed a total of three tents with both ends of the tents open, which allows 22 people to sit comfortably outside at the required social distance and with enough air flowing through, he said.
“Everybody loves the patio in the summer but getting people to like it in the winter keeps us on our toes.”
The Post Brewing Company in Longmont has implemented similar changes to the outside patio to ensure the comfort of its guests.
Brett Smith, chef and operating partner of The Post Brewing Company – which has four restaurant locations across Colorado, said the outdoor space of the Longmont location currently has eight heaters in the outdoor space and will have a leased tent installed early next week.
“The response from people has been amazing, our customer base in Longmont has been amazing, very supportive of us,” said Smith. People are coming up in the cold weather, wanting to come out, enjoy some chicken and beer and support us.”
Besides the changes to the patio, the business recently also incorporated a delivery service of its own to keep staff employed and to retain as much revenue as possible, he said.
“From cooking the food to reaching the doorstep… we’re adapted in any way we can to allow us to keep as many people employed as we can,” Smith said.
Smith has been able to take advantage of the paycheck protection program loans as well as the first round of federal government stimulus and hopes to receive more assistance with a second round.
Other businesses on the list have managed to keep their doors and patios open, but have struggled more to fully winterize the space. Such is the case with Red Frog Coffee, a local family-owned business that has been around for just over 10 years.
“Many customers come to spend time at the Frog to socialize with friends or work remotely. In the "good ole' days", we had a comfy section in the back of the shop (indoors) with couches and a coffee table, and this section was a favorite,” said Emily Kelly, owner of the coffee shop, adding that in spite having to close their indoor space, they strive to continue to provide a comfortable and warm atmosphere. “Red Frog Coffee is where we create community through coffee.”
So far, Kelly has been able to place a couple of patio heaters among several outdoor tables and said the space is situated to receive much sunlight on sunny days, which gives it some warmth even in the colder weather.
“At this time, we only have the two heaters as our finances are quite tight,” Kelly said. “We've applied for the Winter Outdoor Grant Program and if we're awarded a grant, would be able to purchase several more heaters as well as three, three sided pop-up shelters and a propane fire pit.”
Adair recognizes the importance of supporting local businesses through the winter and hopes the compiled winter patio list will help funnel foot traffic to these spaces.
“The list is organic and ever growing, every time someone sends us an email or a post on social (media) we add more,” she said. “We are not excluding anyone on purpose, sometimes it just takes a few rounds to get everyone notified and included in the list.”