Utah Restaurant Innovates Outdoor Dining Amid Pandemic

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April 6, 2021

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Restaurants across the country have struggled to stay open due to COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing measures. But some businesses have come up with creative solutions to keep the lights on. 

Café Galleria, located just outside of Park City, Utah, has innovated its outdoor patio dining space. They’ve built plastic-enclosed, igloo-like domes made of wood and plexiglass to cover their diners. The globes include air ventilation, heating, a sound system and lighting.

Most importantly, they allow people to dine outside and socially distance on a chilly Utah evening.

Rob Hellewell, co-owner of Café Galleria, worked with local company Alpenglobe to create the new outdoor seating.

“We created the design and then found a partner in Salt Lake that could fabricate it,” Hellewell said. “We came to them with a concept of what we wanted to build and asked if they could build this for us.”

It took a big investment and a little help to renovate their full patio space to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions.

“That patio didn’t exist in the state that it exists now back in March a year ago,” Hellewell said. “It was just kind of gravel and some bark that was thrown down. So, we decided to flagstone it and build that wall and those arches around it during that April, May time period. There were people at the restaurant, bussers and servers, that were helping even do that project, just to have something.”

Since installing the globes, the café has processed over 6,000 reservations. The restaurant now employs twice as many people as when the current owners purchased the business in 2019.

Utah will lift its mask mandate on April 10, according to a bill that Governor Spencer Cox signed in late March. Utah’s reopening comes as the state has seen a COVID-19 positive test rate of 3.5%, down from 5.2% a month ago. Vaccinations are open to anyone over the age of 16.

Currently, Utah is still in a moderate level of transmission, requiring masks in businesses and 6 feet of social distancing.

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