Chicago restaurants brace for colder weather with catering pods

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CHICAGO — Colder temperatures pose a new challenge for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic, but a solution is being developed at Fulton Market.

In the past 24 hours, food pods have popped up at five restaurants on Fulton Market Street; Beatrix, Duck Duck Goat, Gus’s, Kuma’s and Publican.

At Beatrix, you can book an “igloo” for $150. You will have a round of drinks for your party and it will last two and a half hours. Each “igloo” is equipped with seats, blankets and even heaters.

“Our goal right now is to get to the Thanksgiving holiday and we’ll see how the weather pans out,” Beatrix’s partner Cannon Porter said. “Right now our license is good until December 31, so we’re going to stretch it as long as the weather in Chicago allows us.”

The entire project is only about two weeks old and was made possible through a partnership between the Illinois Restaurant Association, the West Central Association and Stella Artois.

It costs restaurants nothing, but it provides a lifeline to continue with outdoor service as temperatures begin to drop.

Mike Stone hasn’t eaten much indoors due to the pandemic. But with his family in town, he started researching outdoor patios.

“I was literally Googling ‘dome out eating in Chicago,'” Stone said. “It looks futuristic, I feel like I’m in a movie, it’s a bit weird, but I expect the food to be as great as usual. I love Publicain.

After each group leaves, each pod is disinfected.

“Everything is sanitized between uses,” Porter said. “We have a high cloth sanitizer that we wipe down all the furniture and blankets here, we have a sanitizer spray to spray everything down and make sure it’s ready for reuse.”

There are 21 modules being installed, bringing the maximum capacity to 96.

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