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Al fresco winter dining: Restaurants and bars get creative to accommodate customers

Indoor dining is closed in counties under level red restrictions, including Summit County, but state gave restaurants options to stay open for outdoor dining.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Typically, December wouldn’t fare well for outdoor dining in Summit County, but the unseasonably warm weather has made it possible for several restaurants and bars with food service.

Indoor dining is closed in counties under level red restrictions, including Summit, but the state gave restaurants the option to stay open for outdoor dining in addition to takeout and delivery.

Columbine Café has put tables in its courtyard, where customers can sit and eat. Owner Robert Simonton explained that while there isn’t service to the tables, the café is still doing takeout. So a customer can order food to-go, and then eat it outside.

“That’s the one main problem we have up here. … A lot of people have been trying to figure out where to sit and eat,” Simonton said. “It’s been a lot of tourists up here right now, so they’re still trying to figure out what to do.”

Simonton said the takeout business has been slow, but once the tables were put out, Columbine Café has seen its numbers increase. However, Simonton said he doesn’t think a lot of people know which restaurants are open. He said people are wearing ski gear or winter outerwear when they come to get takeout, which makes winter outdoor dining easier. He said he plans to put some heaters out as it gets colder, as well.

Read the full story at Summit Daily

>>Watch story above: Summit County business impacted by shift to 'Level Red' on COVID dial