Visitors to downtown Midland now have new and unique options for outdoor dining this season thanks to a relatively new partnership — heated plastic ‘igloos.’
Downtown Restaurant Investments (DRI) chief operations manager Kurt Busard is thankful he formed an early partnership with Eat Great Festival. Eat Great, the foodie-focused offshoot of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, has worked to help promote restaurants from around the Great Lakes Bay Region. With about 20 plastic igloos taking up space in storage, they found yet another way to help partners this season.
"People love them," says Busard, referring to three igloos placed on Main Street in Midland just outside Molasses Smokehouse & Bar, a restaurant owned by DRI. "The Eat Great team has been such great partners. They are loaning these to us at no cost, so we are passing that along to customers and not charging any cover fees or anything. It's a great option to still enjoy outdoor dining in a really unique setting."
Customers can choose to dine in the igloos on a first-come, first-served basis, says Busard. Evenings tend to be more popular, and the heated domes are available as an option for groups of up to six people. Busard says diners who choose igloo seating tend to spend an average of 15-20 minutes more on their dining experience, likely due to the unique setting. The igloos are then sanitized and prepared for the next group.
"Our mission is to highlight the amazing culinary talent we have in the region, and help provide a platform for chefs and restaurateurs to help drive growth," says Alex Maga, event manager of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. "We saw a unique opportunity to help some of our partners by offering the use of igloos we purchased for winter events, and our hope is that it helps extend their outdoor dining season and increases capacity in general."
Other DRI owned or managed restaurants that feature igloo dining include Whine in Midland, and Tavern 101 and Old City Hall, in Bay City. Eat Great Festival has also loaned igloos to The Creek Grill in Midland. Maga says they will need the igloos back for a short period in February when they host another Eat Great Winter event — featuring over 20 igloos in downtown Bay City for a dining experience with several courses prepared by restaurants from around the region.
"Our Eat Great Winter event in Dow Gardens last year was a huge success," says Maga. "We're bringing the event to Bay City. From February 21-23, we'll be in Wenonah Park and tickets should be available by mid-December."
For details about the Eat Great Festival and Eat Great Winter, visit www.eatgreatfoodfestival.com.