Outdoor dining doesn’t concern me from a risk perspective. Covid-19 spreads mostly via aerosols in indoor settings. As we’ve adapted to the ‘new normal’ these past 9 months, outdoor meals have been a way to still go out while practicing appropriate caution.
As the weather has turned colder in much of the country this presents a challenge. It’s no longer viable for many restaurants to attract diners to an outdoor setting. So some restaurants have turned to offering meals inside private hotel suites.
- Hotels are frequently empty, so there’s an easy unused resource to leverage
- Private rooms provide guests the comfort and safety of outdoors, without being subject to the elements.
Private hotel rooms do mean being exposed to shared air through HVAC systems, so the risk may not be quite as low as outdoor dining, but you’re actually farther from other diners and there don’t appear to be many documented cases of Covid-19 spreading through building ventilation. You’ll still be exposed indoors to a restaurant’s wait staff, but not for prolonged periods.
Several restaurants are taking the approach of serving meals in hotel rooms, often where the restaurant is in the same building or adjacent.
- Walnut Street Cafe, Philadelphia is in the same mixed-use building as AKA University City hotel, 23 floors above, and owned by the same real estate group. They serve a 3 course dinner for $65 plus a $50 room charge and call it the “Walnut Suite Cafe” experience. Guests who wish to stay overnight credit the $50 towards a $275 room rate. They accommodate up to 15 parties in one and two bedroom suites, matching their indoor dining capacity downstairs.
- Le Crocodile, Brooklyn uses 13 rooms in the Wythe hotel offering a 3 course $100 meal for parties of 4-10 people.
- Hewing Hotel, Minneapolis has converted rooms into private dining spaces.
- Uni, Boston at the Eliot Hotel serves ramen and sushi in guest rooms and pipes in the music from the restaurant for ambiance.
- Nomad Hotel, New York offers meals in empty suites as well.
Reportedly average checks are higher in hotel suites than at normal restaurant tables, with guests more likely to splurge on nicer wine which is high-margin for restaurants making the whole proposition win-win for the restaurant and hotel which sees room revenue from underutilized space as well.