Restaurateurs: Please keep the icy breezes out!

The other day, a Hot Dish reader was telling me about his night at Northeast Social. His meal was great, he said, and he loved the ambiance, but he had a major problem with "the world's worst door." The door? Really? And then he started to rant:

"If you happen to be seated anywhere within 15 feet of the door--which for NE Social is about a quarter of the place--your legs are going to freeze off and you can't enjoy yourself," he said. The restaurant had tried to remedy the problem by placing a small heater with a thermostat near the door." But," my friend explained, "as soon as the door opened, you could watch the temperature drop. It would go from 64 to 58. Suddenly you're outside for 2 minutes--that's why I came here, not to be outside!"

Thing is, I hear the guy: some smaller Minnesota restaurants have a major problem with keeping cold air out of their establishments during the winter months. And most haven't found a great way to solve the problem. I sat next to the door at Fuji-Ya the other night and experienced the same cold blast every time someone entered or exited, and they even have a vestibule (I think its walls doesn't reach the ceiling or something so the cold air comes over the top...). If I'm remembering correctly, I've seen Nick & Eddie, Alma, and Heidi's try, with only moderate success, to dampen wintry drafts with heavy curtains draped around the door.

Another solution I've seen, mostly in New York, are those temporary, external vestibules (like they use at Grey's Dog in Chelsea, pictured above). They look kind of tacky, they add an extra hassle and expense, and I'm not sure even if they're kosher with the city--but, still, *something* needs to be done. Diners chilled by icy breezes will probably decide to dine at home next time. Anybody have other suggestions?

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