HELENA — The pandemic has forced restaurants to constantly adapt over the past year and winter weather means restaurants facing limited capacities can't always turn to outdoor dining to keep customer numbers up.
MTN News talked to a Helena owner who has a new way for diners to stay safe and distanced with an added touch of the outdoor dining experience.
“It's been fantastic,” says Marci Andersen, the owner of Wassweiler Dinner House in Helena. “People have really enjoyed it. We've gone from an intimate dinner for two to dinner for six people and everything in between and it's been really well-received."
The Wassweiler Dinner House added three igloos to their back patio to be able to serve up to 18 more customers while maintaining COVID-19 precautions. They say they are one of the first in Helena to implement dining pods. The owner says these dining pods offer more than just keeping you safe.
“Even beyond COVID, just being able to have this experience in Montana in the winter, is just really fun,” says Andersen. “It's something new and exciting."
What is also exciting is the increased income. Without the igloos, Wassweiler was working at 50% capacity in the pandemic. They admit 50% is not sustainable for their business.
“Quite frankly, it just seemed like a good way to bring our income back up to what it needs to be to actually function as a restaurant because 50% isn't sustainable long term," says Andersen.
Wassweiler says if business goes well with the addition of the igloos, they may add more dining pods to the property.
Wassweiler first got the idea of implementing dinner pods from restaurants in Missoula and other parts of the country.