Newark, OH

Igloo dining heats up business at local restaurants

The Lantern
Igloos at Cherry Valley Hotel located at 2299 Cherry Valley Rd. SE, Newark, Ohio, Dec. 17, 2021. By Preston Harmon | Lantern Reporter

Some restaurants around central Ohio are providing a unique dining experience as winter trudges on.

Local restaurants are taking advantage of outdoor dining spaces, which would otherwise go unoccupied during Ohio’s frigid winter, by installing large, heated igloos that can seat up to eight people. Brad Hampu, owner of Amato’s Woodfired Pizza in Delaware, said his restaurant began offering igloo seating to increase seating during the winter months.

“People were concerned about going and eating out,” Hampu said. “I thought it would be a good way to give people the assurance they were safe amongst themselves.”

Hampu said Amato’s installed four igloos last winter after statewide COVID-19 protocols limited its seating capacities. He said the 32 additional seats provided by the igloos put customers at ease and increases the restaurant’s capacity.

The igloos have remained fruitful despite staffing struggles over the last year, Hampu said.

“It has helped our bottom line tremendously,” Hampu said. “Any time you can add 32 seats, that’s certainly beneficial.”

Reservations to dine in an igloo at Amato’s are not required, and Hampu said the igloos will continue to be available until the weather warms. The igloos operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

“A lot of places do reserve them, but we wanted as many people as possible to use them,” Hampu said. “We’re right in the main intersection of downtown — they’re very visible and have lights on them.”

Mary Dimitrijeska, marketing manager for the Craftsman Kitchen & Terrace restaurant at Newark’s Cherry Valley Hotel , said her restaurant started offering igloo seating in December 2021.

Craftsman Kitchen & Terrace reopened for the first time since 2020 this past December — after being closed due to the pandemic — with newly installed igloos that seat two to six patrons, Dimitrijeska said. She said the igloos generated much-needed publicity for Cherry Valley Hotel, as many were otherwise unaware of the reopening.

The igloos have been in such high demand at Craftsman Kitchen & Terrace that Dimitrijeska said they have added more dates for reservations, with availability now through the first two Fridays and Saturdays of March.

The igloo dining option at Craftsman Kitchen & Terrace offers a curated menu and costs $65 per person normally, or $75 per person on Valentine’s Day weekend, Dimitrijeska said. Craftsman is open Thursday through Saturday and reservations for igloos can be made on the reservation app Resy .

Hampu and Dimitrijeska said both restaurants intend on continuing igloo dining for the foreseeable future.

“It’s a cool trend, and I think it will be around for a little bit,” Dimitrijeska said. “We’re definitely going to do it again next year.”

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