BETHLEHEM, Pa. - With winter right around the corner, restaurants are gearing up to continue serving outside, and some are going all-out.
Since the start of the pandemic, Bolete, the award-winning restaurant, has not opened its dining room.
“So we started takeout which was very busy, and then we rolled into outdoor,” said Erin Chizmar, the owner. She would like to keep it that way. "If you know Bolete it's tiny, you know, we have radiant heat in the winter so it didn't feel like a smart decision right now.”
Which at first seems like an impossible challenge in the winter, but Erin had an idea: "The idea was to build private, enclosed dining areas."
Private, heated "bungalows" styled for the season. Think an outdoor Christmas village. "We can stick with the model that we had committed to, where nobody would be indoors or exposed to any other guests," Chizmar said.
However, at a time when money's tight, spending thousands on a whole new set up wasn't possible.
"It takes a village, no pun intended," Chizmar said.
So Erin went looking for sponsors. The response, she says, was overwhelming.
"We wanted 12 and we got 20+," Chizmar said. Each bungalow will hold six to eight people and will hopefully be more than enough to keep patrons comfortable this winter.
"We're basically able to stay open at almost more or normal capacity would be," Chizmar said. “At a time that not every day feels amazing, this feels pretty awesome."
The village should be ready in the coming weeks.