Barry Co. restaurant uses ice shanties for outdoor dining

Barry County

YANKEE SPRINGS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A restaurant near Gun Lake is getting creative with outdoor dining by turning its parking lot into an ice shanty village.

The Sand Bar and Grill just launched the idea this week to help the business cope with the current statewide prohibition of indoor dining service.

Three heated shanties equipped with a Bluetooth speaker are available to rent and customers can bring their own.

Icy shanties in front of the  Sand Bar and Grill in Barry County on Dec. 16, 2020.  
Icy shanties in front of the  Sand Bar and Grill in Barry County on Dec. 16, 2020.  

General Manager Brandi James says the small business priced specially designed igloos for outdoor dining, but that would have cost thousands of dollars.

“This is a practical solution because those igloos are very expensive,” James said.

She hopes the seating will help them financially weather the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already forced many restaurants to close.

The restaurant’s existing outdoor seating and fireplace have been popular, but they wanted an option for customers in colder temperatures.

“We’re hoping that this takes off,” James said. “We’re hopeful that it can help keep us afloat. That’s what we’ve done with takeout and delivery.”

The restaurant says the shanties keep households separated and are sanitized between each use.

Co-owner Kim Campbell says they felt this was a better approach than using a big communal tent because it is easier to maintain social distance.

The servers try to keep their distance by handing food and drinks through the door.

Icy shanties in front of the  Sand Bar and Grill in Barry County on Dec. 16, 2020.  
Icy shanties in front of the  Sand Bar and Grill in Barry County on Dec. 16, 2020.  

The business has seen a lot of interest since the launch.

“We just decided to, hey, let’s see if people react to it. We put it out on Facebook, and it went crazy,” James said.

Customers Corey and Aimee Fleurette brought their own shanty to lunch on Wednesday.

“As of right now, because of the pandemic, it serves like a dual purpose and here soon we can go ice fishing and we can’t right now, so we can utilize it for this,” Corey Fleurette said.

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