Greenhouses and igloos are expected to start blooming in downtown Milford this week.
The temporary outdoor structures will allow selected restaurants to offer seating options during the pandemic.
“We are thrilled,” said Ann Barnette, CEO of the Downtown Development Authority. “Obviously we would have liked to get the 26 greenhouses we requested, but we are happy with 10 greenhouses and igloos. We will work with the restaurateurs on how to distribute them… We are grateful to the county. “
Oakland County is providing five winterized greenhouses and igloos each, as well as about 50 heaters and propane tanks and some disinfection stations as part of a grant of more than $ 40,000 to the village to help businesses get through the pandemic winter. Just before Christmas, the county distributed an additional $ 80,000 in CARES Act cash grants to businesses in Milford.
The village council unanimously approved the criteria for distributing the greenhouses and igloos that will allow restaurants to take delivery of the structures, which is expected to begin by Friday.
Village director Christian Wuerth and Barnette needed the council to set criteria for structures in order to make decisions on how to distribute them to businesses. There are only 10 available.
One of the factors that will determine who will receive a greenhouse or an igloo is whether the restaurant continued to operate in some form during the pandemic; whether they relied primarily on in-place or take-out meals before COVID-19; and how quickly they can get the structures up and running.
“If they can’t put it in place tomorrow, (they will be) lower priority,” Wuerth said.
Continuity of use will also be taken into account.
Barnette noted that, conceptually, the state’s restrictions on indoor dining could be lifted on January 15 if there was not another increase in COVID-19 cases from the holidays. However, she predicts that even if that were to happen, there would still be customers who wouldn’t eat inside and restaurants who would still want to offer the greenhouse or igloo options.
“If we allocate the greenhouses and someone uses them until April, that’s a better allocation,” she said.
Barnette added that she expected there to be five or six restaurants that would have a permanent outdoor presence through April, regardless of state restrictions, including Coratti’s, Charlies on Main and The Bar.
Restaurants will take ownership of the igloos and greenhouses and remove them for storage after April 1, but Barnette said they could potentially use them after the pandemic, in the coming winters.
During the pandemic, the HHS issued rules for the use of outdoor structures. Reservations must be made and restaurant staff must clean them between each use. Barnette said each structure could accommodate between 4 and 6 people.
They will be placed in parallel parking spaces in front of businesses, just like the catering platforms used in the city center in summer to provide more space for diners in the open air. Barnette said many restaurants that used the platforms regretted removing them despite having been allowed to keep them longer.
“The operators didn’t realize how many people were sitting there (in cold weather),” she explained. “We’re learning a lot (during the pandemic): what works downtown and what doesn’t work downtown and I think the stronger winter presence will be ongoing. People really like to eat out. in winter.”