Chicago restaurants preparing for colder weather with dining pods

CHICAGO — Colder temperatures are providing a new challenge for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic, but there’s a solution being developed in Fulton Market.

In the past 24 hours, dining 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’ll get a round of drinks for your party and it will last for two and a half hours. Each “igloo” is equipped with seating, blankets and even heaters.

“Right now, our goal is to get to the Thanksgiving holiday and we’ll see how the weather turns out,” said Beatrix partner Cannon Porter. “Right now, our permit is through Dec. 31 so we are going to stretch it as long as Chicago weather lets us.”

The whole project is only about two weeks old and came together due to a partnership between the Illinois Restaurant Association, the West Loop Chamber of Commerce and Stella Artois.

It doesn’t cost the restaurants anything, but it does offer a lifeline to keep going with outdoor service as temperatures begin to drop.

After every group leaves, each pod is sanitized.

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

There are 21 pods being installed, bringing the max capacity to 96.