Restaurants find a bright side to the restaurant occupancy restrictions

Positively U.P.

MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – Many Restaurants in the Upper Peninsula have found a new and COVID-19 safe way to allow customers to still enjoy the luxuries of sitting down at a restaurant.

With only one to two take out orders a week, Mount Shasta General Manager and Chef Patrick Parsley knew that he had to act fast in order to keep the lights on. He presented the idea of a new outdoor dining idea to the owner and the rest is history.

“I came up with the idea of having the owner get some igloos and put them out in the yard,” said Parsley. “Because he had a huge yard so he went and bought some igloos and put them out here.”

Once the igloos went up, Parsley took to Facebook to share the news and said the phone was ringing off the hook with people wanting to try this new experience.

“When we got it, it boomed,” said Parsley. “We were booked until February when we first got them in December so it was crazy busy.”

Outdoor dining, especially during the winter months, was never a thought in UP North Lodge General Manager Jesie Melchiori’s mind but due to COVID, those thoughts have now changed.

“We worked really hard on our outdoor dining set up which included bonfires and tents, we just made a whole new atmosphere outside that was really exciting,” Melchiori continued. “And actually paid off in the long run and we were voted the U.P’s number one outdoor dining”

Due to the wild success from the outdoor dining, Melchiori said that they are looking to keep the outdoor dining as a year-round option.

“The outdoor dining has been one of the greatest additions,” said Melchiori. “Well we do a lot of stuff outside during the summer, during the winter….I guess it’s always there but is it something we utilized in the winter? Not really..but we live in the U.P so it only makes sense going forward”

The MDHHS restrictions limit all restaurant’s occupancy to 25% with a 10:00 p.m. closing time. The restrictions were set to expire on February 21st but were quickly extended to March 26th.

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