Left Foot Charley Turns Up The Heat on Outdoor Dining
Outdoor seating has been a challenge for many businesses, especially in winter.
But one winery is all fired up about the way businesses is going.
At Left Foot Charley in the Grand Traverse Commons, wine and cider are the backbone of the business. But they’ve turned to propane to keep business hot.
“We figured little propane tanks, some cool fire pits and heaters would at least cut the chill a little bit. People could still come to the patio spaced out and feel safer outdoors as well,” McClellan says.
The winery says it will actually help increase their overall capacity, which will be especially helpful with indoor restrictions taking effect on Monday.
“With being limited to no indoor service we were able to have the same amount of people outdoors that normally we’d have inside in the winter. With the 25% limited capacity starting next week, we’ll be able to seat four times that many people with the outdoor space. Which is exponentially more opportunities for revenue, and keep our staff employed all through the winter,” McClellan says.
“Traverse City has a lot of ‘support local’ kind of attitude. and that’s why people come here. You can’t really go to a bar right now, so coming here and having a glass of delicious wine, it’s awesome. A lot of people go to Spanglish next door and bring their food here,” White says.
McClellan encourages interested customers to layer up and try it out. “It’s been great. People will bundle up. We’ve had couples come in sleeping bags, bring blankets…we’re Michiganders, we’re tough. Just bundle up throw some warm mittens on, come out and enjoy wine and cider.” She adds, “I think we’ve created a cool ambience out there that people are looking forward to, cozying up around the fire pits, and able to bring dogs on the patio which has been really fun. I think people will continue to feel safe, more safe, outdoors than inside.”
Outdoor business this time of year also means quick turnover for the next customers – which isn’t a bad thing in this industry. “They don’t hang around too long. It’s not like a warm summer July evening when they hang out for three or four hours. They get chilly.” And that means while the patio is first-come, first-serve, the wait isn’t usually too long.
“If you’ve ever hauled a couple propane tanks several times throughout the day, you realize how fortunate you are to have them,” McClellan says. “They deliver it several times here every week. Whatever is empty they take and they refill it. It’s really nice not to have to go to a hardware store to fill it up.”
Left Foot Charley takes reservations (see their website) for indoor seating, and it’s first-come-first-serve for outdoor seating on the patio. The Barrel Room will also open for tasting experiences, one party at a time.