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Restaurants get creative with outdoor dining structures

Brass Ring Brewing in Alger Heights has designed several 'Craft Beer Shanties' for customers, inspired by classic ice fishing shanties
Brass Ring Brewing Beer Shanties
Posted at 4:43 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 20:42:33-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With indoor dining banned until mid-December, restaurants across the state are coming up with creative ways of facilitating outdoor options, with some designing their own unique structures.

Under the current shutdown, restaurants are barred from offering indoor dining until at least December 9. Restaurants like Brass Ring Brewing in Alger Heights are coming up with interesting ways for customers to eat outside, without having to freeze.

“It has been a lot of pivots and changes. You’ve got to keep things bright, positive and keep it interesting,” Chris Gibbons, owner and head brewer at Brass Ring, told FOX 17 Tuesday.

“A couple of weeks ago, when it became obvious the shutdown would probably be happening, we went into overdrive trying to figure out something we could do to offer dine-in service.”

Gibbons and his family members that make up much of his staff pride themselves on turning challenges into opportunities for growth.

“I grew up in Northern Michigan. My brother-in-law has a shanty, and he tricks it out every year. And I thought, man, the ice shanty is warm, I’ve spent hours in ‘em.”

And so, along with a carpenter buddy, they came up with the Craft Beer Shanty.

“It’s an enclosed space, so it gets quite warm in there with people,” Gibbons said Tuesday as he showed off the recently completed structures.

The shanties will be available to book in 90 minute time slots starting Wednesday afternoon. Spots are available for 4:00pm, 5:00pm and 7:30pm.

You can make your reservation for a beer shanty at the Brass Ring website HERE.

Just a few miles away in Eastown, the folks at Royals have been doing their best to launch a new restaurant in the midst of the pandemic.

“We actually opened on, I want to say March 16, which was the first time that restaurants got shut down. So we were open for approximately 3 hours,” said Chris Funaro, Director of Operations for All-In Hospitality.

“Royals is our version of a classic diner. So we serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner in normal times. We have a great outdoor space.”

They have set up several large igloo-type structures in that outdoor space, allowing for 6 people in each.

“We're taking the approach of it being 100% contact free,” Funaro told FOX 17 Tuesday afternoon.

“So no employee of ours will actually ever enter your space. We have QRs that are in each one of the the igloos, so you'll be able to order and pay and then one of our staff members will bring the food out to a table that sits outside of the igloo.”

You can sign up for one of their igloos at their website HERE.

For now, the igloos and the beer shanties are helping keep the doors open until customers are allowed back inside.

Chris Gibbons at Brass Ring says, “It’s going to be wonderful, during this shutdown at least, to have people we can actually take care of and offer an interesting experience, a break from the monotony of not having anywhere to go, and not having anything to do.”