Bars and Restaurants Get Creative to Serve Customers Outside

DULUTH, Minn.– Bars and restaurants are now able to serve people on site again. It just has to be outdoors in December. And even though the circumstances might not be ideal, local businesses are doing their best to make it work.

On a chilly Saturday in Duluth, bars and restaurants were able to host customers outside for the first time in almost a month.

“I feel like it hasn’t been as needed as it has this year. I think people are more willing to brave the cold than I think they were in past years,” said Amanda Agamaite, the Event and Hospitality Manager at Ursa Minor Brewing.

Ursa Minor Brewing in Lincoln Park has been no stranger to outdoor dining. The brewery already had key items in stock like fire pits and pellet stoves to keep people nice and warm while having a cold drink.

Staff says a steady flow of people made their way down to Ursa Minor. During the break, business came from curbside pickup. While those at the brewery hoped they could get the taproom open in some form. They’re glad to serve customers on their patio again.

“We’re willing to take what we can get. We were doing our best with curbside and delivery. This is just a nice added bonus,” said Agamaite. “Especially when there’s sun outside. These are all people that maybe would have come from curbside but it’s nice to see some new faces and some regulars as well.”

7 West Taphouse on Miller Hill didn’t have a traditional patio so they had to get creative. Using a fire pit and hay bales, along with Christmas decorations made out of lights and old kegs to make a bonfire experience in their parking lot, replacing their summer outdoor seating and tables.

“It is definitely a challenge, but this whole year has been restaurants adapting to change so that’s just what we did. And we just said we have to try,” said Jen Wright, General Manager of 7 West Taphouse on Miller Hill. “We know that the northland is hearty and they’ve always been supportive of us. And I know that if we initiated a ‘Butts on Bales’ strategy they would come.”

Customer Jay Dailey says he was there right as the fire pit started going at 11 a.m. She was excited to get out of the house and have a good time, while supporting local businesses, part of his promise to only shop locally this Christmas season.

While it might not be the best conditions, Dailey says it’s all worth it to help out establishments like 7 West and others during the pandemic.

“We’re from Minnesota, the cold doesn’t bother us. We know that some of the mandates that were handed down like ‘hey you can have outdoor dining in Minnesota in December,’ probably wasn’t a big nugget for us to hang onto. But we’ll take any nugget we can and we’re hanging onto it with dear life,” said Dailey.

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