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Fur-lined seats, beautifully lit glass cabins, miniature electric fireplaces…
The Big Apple’s outdoor dining scene will be a winter wonderland this year, thanks to creative restaurant owners who have been forced to adapt to the ever-changing coronavirus restrictions imposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
To help illustrate the amazing work being done by restaurateurs, The Post is asking its readers to take snapshots of the most imaginative set-ups they have seen and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best of the bunch will be chosen by our food critic Steve Cuozzo.
Over the summer, restaurants were in full bloom with their breezy outdoor setups, but as the mercury has dropped, innovation has been key to keep New York’s famed dining scene thumping.
Restaurants across the city have gone to great lengths to create appealing — and warm — outdoor dining structures that include everything from winterized igloos to cushy banquettes complete with cozy blankets.
Cabin with a view
In Lower Manhattan, designers for Pier 17’s The Rooftop created winterized, individual cabins that offer panoramic views of Lower Manhattan that diners can enjoy while sipping on hot smoked toddys and yule ciders and feasting on cheese fondue and buttermilk fried chicken.
“We really wanted to bring that taste of Upstate New York to Downtown Manhattan in a socially distanced way that is geographically convenient for New Yorkers,” said Craig Manfra, the restaurant’s marketing director.
“The rooftop is this collection of 28 cabins in rows where you have that ski mountain inspiration. We have string lights lining from cabin to cabin and to further hit on that ambience of the retreat to upstate, we even have a mountain range sculpture on the rooftop’s northside.”
Each of the cabins, which cost $50 to reserve on weekends, are set up with classic winter lodge decor.
Cozy winter wonderland
At the Meatpacking arm of Fig and Olive, which serves up Mediterranean fare, designers created a cozy retreat that includes fur throws draped across seats, plastic igloos and wood floors.
“Having outdoor space is helpful but you still have to be creative,” the eaterie’s CEO Alexis Blair told The Post earlier this week.
White marble tables are adorned with lanterns and green and white wreaths bring style to the winterized digs.
“I think during troubling times there will always be a period of innovation,” said Blair.
“And that is what is so amazing about the restaurant industry. It is filled with the most creative and resilient minds of anyone I have ever known.”
On the water’s edge
Watermark Bar on Pier 15 in Lower Manhattan has created a series of sparkling white and blue “Glasshouses” that overlook the East River and offer diners a private and weather-proof spot for a night out.
The heated houses can fit as many as 10 guests who have the option of a la carte menu items, bottomless cocktails or a chef’s tasting, which includes crispy coconut shrimp, chips and guacamole, dessert crepes and a free bottle of champagne.
Diners looking for a few snacks while enjoying the views can munch on s’mores, meat skewers and chili.
Special events are held at the glasshouses each Wednesday — tickets can be purchased on EventBrite.
A Michelin-starred bungalow
The Upper East Side’s Daniel, known for being one of the best — and most exclusive — restaurants in all of New York, has applied its Michelin-star energy to its sidewalk setup in its creation of “Boulud Sur Mer bungalows.”
The setup’s breezy seaside vibe takes diners’ minds off of the frigid temperatures and comes to life with their peaked roofs, clerestories and porthole shaped openings.
The bungalows, described as a “personal doorway” to “the South of France,” are completely private with curtains that shut out the sidewalk riff raff and marine cabin heaters that keep diners warm.
Inside a Christmas bubble
Another impressive effort has come from Cafe Du Soleil on the Upper West Side.
Owner Alain Chevreux decked the eateries sidewalk setup with red, white and green Christmas decorations to go along with its chic dining bubbles to bring some holiday cheer to diners.
“We have the typical Christmas decorations, lighting all over, the ornaments,” said Chevreux. “The place looks magnificent at night.”
Chevreux has spent “tens of thousands” of dollars creating the outdoor setup, which has saved his business and allowed him to keep the kitchen firing.
To combat the cool weather, Chevreux has outfitted each dining bubble with an electric heater so diners can stay warm as they feast on traditional delicacies like boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin.
Like an Italian getaway
For diners in Brooklyn, Bay Ridge’s Positano has made great use of its ample space by hand-creating a series of cabanas that are designed to mimic the indoor experience.
“We have heaters, lights, fresh flowers, palm trees,” general manager Valmir Krasniqi said of the southern Italian hotspot.
“We’re just trying to make it a normal and nice experience while still keeping a traditional Italian vibe. We have imported rugs, we have twinkle lights to kind of get people in the holiday spirit,” the manager said.
“We’re just trying to make a regular restaurant experience outside because there’s not much else we can do.”
Know of a great outdoor dining winter wonderland? Tell The Post about your favorite setups at email@example.com.