Igloos at Watermark Bar and Grille extend the outdoor dining season, a boon to restaurateurs as indoor dining is prohibited.

Igloos at Watermark Bar and Grille extend the outdoor dining season, a boon to restaurateurs as indoor dining is prohibited.

Photo provided by Watermark Bar and Grille


St. Clair Shores restaurants embrace cold weather dining with igloos

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 18, 2020

 Watermark Bar and Grille installed the heated igloos in October to be ready for outdoor dining in cold weather.

Watermark Bar and Grille installed the heated igloos in October to be ready for outdoor dining in cold weather.

Photo provided by Watermark Bar and Grille

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — While outdoor dining was a boon to St. Clair Shores restaurants this summer, some local restaurants are looking to extend the season with a twist on patio dining: igloos.

Watermark Bar and Grille, 24420 Jefferson Ave., got seven 6-person heated igloos in October to be ready for outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’re taking off pretty well, better than we expected,” said Manager Cindi Methric. “It’s a cool thing to just be able to still sit out by the water.”

While the restaurant did a lot of carryout business in the summer, mostly catering to boaters, being off the beaten path can put it at a bit of a disadvantage, Methric said. The igloos are a great way to bring diners back to the restaurant, even while indoor dining is prohibited.

“Right now, we’re actually doing more (service in the igloos) than we are carryouts,” she said. “The igloos remind people they can not only do outdoor dining, but also carryouts.”

Diners can book a reservation at watermarkbarandgrille.com/igloo. The full restaurant menu is available in the igloos and each igloo is sanitized according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines after each use. Children are permitted but pets are not, and there is a service charge and a spending minimum, depending on the number of people in the igloo.

Watermark always offered carryout, but extending outdoor dining into the winter is new for 2020.

“It turned out to be a necessary investment,” Methric said.

Dave Harden, the owner of Butter Run Saloon, 27626 Harper Ave., brought a beach to his outdoor patio over the summer. Now, the sandy summer scene has been replaced by four igloos.

“The reason we have to do it was for seating. With the restriction on indoor seating, we can’t survive on carryout,” Harden said.

The bar and restaurant is also offering cocktails to go along with carryout food, which has been successful, especially on the weekends when Butter Run offers mimosas and bloody marys to-go.

“I was doing record numbers with the beach,” he said.

But without the ability to have indoor dining, he said, “we’re probably down 80% from a normal week, just doing carryouts.”

The igloos at Butter Run Saloon are available with reservations made by calling (586) 675-2115. Patrons can book a one-and-a-half hour time slot and there is a spending minimum.

“We’re hoping to just bring in customers,” Harden said. “There’s a lot of interest in them, so hopefully that will continue.”

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