By Michael Deeds , IdahoStatesman.com
With fall temperatures dropping, patio season typically would be ending for Boise restaurants.
But these aren’t typical times.
To keep customers feeling safe during the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants are cranking up outdoor heaters, lighting fire pits — even adding temporary outdoor structures. Kevin Settles, owner of Bardenay and Coyne’s, said his patios are burning three to four times more propane than in past years. “People have been kind of toughing it out,” he said, “if you can get right next to the heater.”
Cloud 9 Brewery in Boise’s North End keeps patio seating open year-round. Propane heaters and two fire tables fight off the chill while diners eat and drink. “We are looking forward to seeing what winter brings,” co-owner Maggie Lake said, “and hope that people continue to go out and support local.”
Settles considered erecting a heated tent outside Bardenay in Boise and Eagle. But after exploring costs, the numbers didn’t add up, he said. “It kind of shocked us how expensive it was.”
Instead, Bardenay will encourage patrons to head indoors. Both buildings were constructed when smoking was still allowed, so active airflow was part of their interior designs, Settles said. “In our case, do you want to sit in a tent with a 10-foot ceiling, or do you want to come into a building with a 25-foot ceiling? I think it’s a better environment.”
Masks, meticulous cleaning and spread-out tables are the new norm inside conscientious restaurants. But as windows are closed to ward off shivers, COVID-19 lurking in stagnant air remains a concern. Consequently, Settles spent about $17,000 retrofitting his restaurants in Boise and Eagle with needlepoint bipolar ionization (NPBI), he said, designed to sanitize air in existing HVAC systems. Other restaurants, including Cloud 9 Brewing, have installed the same technology. Bacon owner John Berryhill, an early adopter locally, called the investment “a no-brainer.”
Until further studies are done on the coronavirus, some experts are cautious. FARE Idaho, an alliance of independent food and beverage businesses, is hopeful that NPBI upgrades or other concepts, such as UV lighting, will deter the coronavirus, executive director Katie Baker said.
“… However,” she added, “our board is unable to locate any peer-reviewed science that backs up that assumption.” Although 21 businesses belonging to Fare Idaho have taken a strict health pledge, “we don’t encourage our members or the industry to install such systems until such science exists proving it is successful in reducing or eliminating the COVID-19 virus,” Baker said in an email.
Still, NPBI units are winning converts. “Absolutely, they work,” maintains Settles, who ran it by a friend who is a professor at Boise State’s materials science and engineering program. “They put them in hospitals. They are known to actually clean air up, and they are effective against viruses.”
Below are Treasure Valley restaurants with outdoor heat options or added air filter technology. When possible, check in advance to make sure that heaters will be available on patios.
Are you a restaurant owner or manager who would like your business included in this list? Email email@example.com.
Àlavita, 807 W. Idaho St., Boise, 208-780-1100: The downtown restaurant plans to keep its 18-person patio open as long as possible, and added four heaters for additional comfort. Even blankets are available.
Indoors, Àlavita has added Global Plasma Solutions Needlepoint Ionization Units and Five Seasons True HEPA Air Purifiers with UV light and photocatalytic filters, a spokesperson said. Plexiglass risers also have been installed between some booths. Àlavita’s “commitment to a healthy and safe dining environment” is explained here.
Alyonka Russian Cuisine, 2870 W. State St., Boise, 208-344-8996: Alyonka has three outdoor tables with two patio heaters. Owner Elena DeYoung said she is exploring the possibility of installing bipolar ionization or UV lighting indoors.
Bacon, 121 N. 9th St. in Boise, 208-387-3553: There’s outdoor dining for 48 customers. The metal awning on the building has a 30-foot-long heater under it. Plus, there are four individual standup heaters. Owner John Berryhill said the restaurant’s 8 a.m to 2 p.m. hours allow for a sunny patio that’s comfortable.
Indoors, Bacon upgraded its HVAC system with needlepoint bipolar ionization (NPBI) units. The breakfast and lunch destination also has plexiglass between some of the tables in the 58-capacity setup.
Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery, 610 W. Grove St., (208) 426-0538, Boise, and 155 E. Riverside Drive, 208-938-5093, Eagle: Bardenay’s patio — particularly in Eagle — is wildly popular in summer. If you want to brave colder temperatures, the patios remain open with standard propane heaters.
Indoors, Bardenay has high ceilings — 25 feet in Boise, 19 feet in Eagle — and excellent circulation, Settles said.
“They were designed to miminize the impacts of smoking on nonsmoking guests,” he explained. “For added safety, we have installed needlepoint bipolar ionization units on all of our HVAC units. In addition, we continue to have our tables well-spaced and/or have clear vinyl screens separating tables.”
Capitol Cellars, 208-344-9463, 110 S. 5th St.: “With the health and safety of our staff and customers ever on our minds, we have invested in the safety of our dining room air quality by installing the Phenomenal Aire Cold Plasma Generator Technology Aire Filtration System,” general manager Logan Smyser said. “Secondly, we are in the process of reviewing quotes and designing an enclosed outdoor patio dining space. The tent would be heated, well-lit, and tables would be properly socially distanced.”
Cloud 9 Brewery, 1750 W. State St. 208-336-0681: This tasty restaurant keeps about half its outdoor patio open in fall and winter — eight four-person tables under awnings — with four propane heaters and two fire tables.
Cloud 9 has installed bipolar ionization to filter pathogens from the air indoors, co-owner Maggie Lake said. There are 11 socially distanced tables in two rooms. Plus the bar and counter have Makrolon polycarbonate shields, which allows for eight seats at the bar.
Coyne’s Restaurant & Bar, 676 E. Riverside Drive, 208-609-5550, Eagle: This new upscale dining establishment has needlepoint bipolar ionization units in its HVAC system, according to Settles.
For fans of open air, Coyne’s offers a covered outdoor patio with heaters installed in the ceiling — not to mention a huge fireplace on the west end. Settles designed the patio area to be as close to a year-round attraction as possible. Even in winter. “As long as it’s not too stormy, we think we can seat it,” he said.
Crave Kitchen & Bar, 165 E. Colchester Drive, Eagle, 208-702-7283: Crave has closed its rooftop patio for winter, but the popular Eagle restaurant has a large, partly covered patio out back with an outdoor fireplace and wall-mounted heaters.
Eureka, 800 W. Idaho St., 208-286-4410: Eureka has outdoor patio seating with heaters. The chain also recently debuted a full-service contactless restaurant experience. “Through this industry-leading innovation,” Eureka said in a news release, “guests will check-in, self-seat, view menus, order scratch food and handcrafted drinks, have the ability to keep their tab open for additional orders, request additional service, and pay their bill from their personal mobile device. The online dining platform is complemented by other technological advancements including Quick Response (QR) codes, smartwatches, and Near Field Communication (NFC) sensors for additional convenience and seamless service.”
Fork, 199 N. 8th St, Boise, 208-287-1700: In an effort to keep its 50-person extended patio open as long as possible, Fork recently added six outdoor fire pits to a spot that already had four heaters. Blankets also are available.
Indoors, Fork has added Global Plasma Solutions Needlepoint Ionization Units and Five Seasons True HEPA Air Purifiers with UV light and photocatalytic filters, a spokesperson said. Plexiglass risers also have been installed between some booths. Fork’s “commitment to a healthy and safe dining environment” is explained here.
Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro, 108 S. Capitol Blvd., 208-345-4100: Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro and Goldy’s Corner share six outdoor tables, seating two each, heated by four propane units. Each heater delivers 48,000 BTU and heats about 200 square feet, according to the restaurants’ office manager, Carmen Hendrichs.
Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, 3573 Long Wing Lane, Meridian, 208-884-2031: Serving “coal-fired brick-oven pizza,” this chain also offers heated patio dining at the Village at Meridian.
Highlands Hollow Brewhouse, 2455 Harrison Hollow Lane, 208-343-6820: Drive past lately? Boise’s oldest microbrewery recently put up a large tent out front. “We invite you to join us in our new, heated tent,” the restaurant posted on Facebook. “We also have heaters on our deck. The fireplace inside is on and cozy.”
Highlands Hollow Brewhouse has erected a large heated tent in front of the restaurant. Highlands Hollow Brewhouse FACEBOOK
Hyde Park Pub & Grill, 1501 N. 13th St., 208-336-9260: This Hyde Park restaurant is family-friendly — and it has a couple of patios with a couple of heaters.
Little Pearl Oyster Bar, 160 N. 8th St.: This new restaurant has a semi-enclosed outdoor patio — sheltered by the Main + Marketplace building and closed off from air draft on two sides. Each socially distanced patio table has its own standing gas heater. There is a separate hadnwashing sink and sanitation station exclusively for patio patrons. The restaurant also offers blankets. Each blanket is dry-cleaned and then sealed in a single-use bag to ensure safety, co-owner Ashley Elliott said.
Indoors, she said, the restaurant has its own central air filtration system and wall-mounted fans to help circulate air. Also, she said, “we are keeping our doors open to allow for an additional air source into our interior dining room.”
Parilla Grill, 1512 N. 13th St., 208-323-4688: This popular Hyde Park hangout plans to install a heated, 30-by-40-foot tent outdoors behind the restaurant, owner Scott Graves said. Three televisions will be on rollers so that patrons can watch sporting events. He said he hopes to have the new setup open within a week.
Richard’s Restaurant & Bar, 500 Capitol Blvd., 208-472-1463: Richard’s has decided to offer seating in its indoor space only for the winter, chef and owner Richard Langston said. “We have installed an air filtration system to our existing HVAC with germicidal UV lights which reduces biological contaminants along with air purification,” he said.
13th Street Pub & Grill, 1520 N. 13th St., 208-639-8888: There are two tall heaters outside this Hyde Park restaurant. If you sit at the the right table, you should be relatively toasty.