Program Helps Restaurant ‘Winterize’ Patios

Downtown Iowa City restaurants can apply for grants to help add heaters or shelters on their outdoor patios. Photo: Think Iowa City.

Over the last several months of the pandemic, restaurants have made good use of their outdoor spaces to encourage social distancing and safe dining. But the colder temperatures are putting these eateries in a tough spot. How can they stay within important safety regulations while maintaining capacity throughout the winter? A local Iowa City grant program is helping restaurants keep their patio spaces usable throughout the winter.

The Iowa City Downtown District is providing grants up to $1,750 for eateries to install warmers, small shelters and more around their outdoor spaces. The organizers behind the grants believe restaurants can be creative with the funds to make fun experiences for patrons.

“We know the weather in Iowa really fluctuates in the fall and winter,”  Nancy Bird, executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District, said in a release. “So rather than pack it in, we want to encourage the use of patios for those crisp, sunny fall and winter days to build up the downtown winter experience, just as they are known to do in Canadian and European cities already.”

A similar program was launched in Des Moines by the Greater Des Moines Partnership, which was providing outdoor heaters to restaurants, although applications have now closed. You can find more information about that and a list here.

More information on the Iowa City grants can be found here.

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