It is nights like Friday that restaurant owners around the state feared: bone-chilling cold, which could scare customers away from outdoor dining. However, that was not the case at one Simsbury restaurant.
Dining al fresco, on one of the coldest nights of the year; conditions inside an outdoor greenhouse were perfect for Jeanette Lahav’s birthday celebration.
“Outside but inside and private and beautiful here,” is the way she described the atmosphere.
Although its dining room is closed, Millwright’s Restaurant was busy, filling tables at its six outdoor greenhouses and six bridge pods despite the arctic temperatures.
“It is a true test. Our propane is working overtime,” said restaurant owner Tyler Anderson.
Propane not only fueled outdoor heaters but also two furnaces. The furnaces pump heated air into each pod and greenhouse, designed to provide comfort and safety.
“Not only are you staying warm, but your cycling through the air. Every three minutes, you get fresh air throughout the greenhouse,” said Anderson.
Before tonight’s birthday dinner, Lahav said she had not been to a restaurant during the pandemic. Yet, this was different.
“We feel safe and feel like this has been a great private experience,” she said.
Still, there was the fact that outside, it was only 15 degrees.
“I realize that and we loath the cold weather so that’s how much we love miss Jeanette to come out on her happy birthday,” added Bethany Ayoub.
Anderson explained that the system is designed to heat each unit to about 40 degrees warmer than outside temperatures. So, inside the greenhouses, Friday’s temps were about 55 degrees.
“You know you bundle up a little bit, have maybe a drink or two and you’ll be just fine,” said Amit Lahav.
Albert Ayoub agreed. “I mean with the layers, there’s heat. You know it’s actually very nice. It’s cozy. We like it.”
The greenhouses at Millwrights have been such a success, ownership said they could outlast the pandemic. With that, though, comes another challenge. Anderson said they are trying to figure out how to air condition them for the summer.