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Which Fort Collins bars, breweries and restaurants have heated outdoor patios for Winter

Erin Udell
Fort Collins Coloradoan

Editor's note: As of 5 p.m. Nov. 24, Larimer County will be under Level Red on the state's COVID-19 risk dial, closing indoor dining. Because of that, some establishments on this list might be fully closed and no long offering outdoor dining. Call ahead before visiting an establishment this season.

Bundled up and ready for beer, a sprinkling of Snowbank Brewing patrons found refuge from the cold in the brewery's parking lot Tuesday evening.

The sun had set and temperatures were dropping as they gathered in the brewery's new tented outdoor beer garden — complete with distanced tables, an electric heater and the glow of twinkling string lights. 

Sipping her glass of Coconut Cranknbrew, Sarah Stratman explained how she used to work at the brewery's neighboring veterinary clinic and would come to Snowbank for after-work beers. It's here, actually, where she met two of the friends she was sitting with in the beer garden Tuesday, she said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they haven't been able to get together as much as before, Stratman said. But on Tuesday, they bundled up, braved the elements and joked about investing in a portable heated blanket — all part of the new reality of socializing in a cold-weather state during a pandemic. 

With winter coming — and cold weather already here — dozens of Fort Collins bars, breweries, restaurants and distilleries have begun heating their outdoor patio spaces to hang onto valuable capacity and give patrons an option to stay outdoors during the pandemic.

We've curated a list of those heated patios for you at the end of this story. But first, some context. 

Keeping outdoor capacity 'absolutely critical' for restaurants

An October survey conducted by the Colorado Restaurant Association indicated 50% of the responding restaurants would have to consider closing within the next six months. Preliminary results from the same survey conducted this month show that number has jumped to 70%, according to Colorado Restaurant Association CEO Sonia Riggs. 

"Restaurants have consistently told us they need two things to survive — cash and capacity. So hanging onto capacity is absolutely critical to survive," Riggs said in an email to the Coloradoan. 

"Expanded patio programs helped restaurants survive restricted capacities in warmer months, but now they're facing colder weather," Riggs said, adding that if restaurants do winterize their patios, that comes at an average added cost of $6,000.

As a result of cold-weather concerns for Colorado restaurants, the Colorado Restaurant Association partnered with the state earlier this fall to host an outdoor winter design workshop and launch a grant program to help restaurants pay for the changes they'll need to make. 

More than 250 applications have been seen in the grant program's first round, which closes Nov. 13. Grants awarded in that first round will be given out on Nov. 23 and a second grant application period will open Nov. 30, Riggs said. 

"We're very concerned we're going to see many, many more closures," Riggs said. 

Fort Collins is one of several Colorado cities to have instituted a patio expansion program earlier this year, allowing approved businesses to add temporary patios in unconventional spaces like parking lots and sidewalks.

In late-September, Fort Collins announced it would extend the program as long as Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has a pandemic-related statewide emergency order in place.

Snowbank Brewing is one of dozens of bars, breweries and restaurants that took advantage of the expanded patio program. Its beer garden tent went up roughly two weeks ago, adding an additional 800 square feet of space for the brewery.

The full list:Here are the 42 Fort Collins bars, breweries and restaurants with expanded outdoor patios

"Our indoor space is so small, we couldn't support our normal business operations (in it)," Snowbank Brewing owner Dave Rosso said Tuesday. "We're trying to expand and give people a place to go that's safe and comfortable."

Patrons sit inside the 800-square-foot beer garden tent as a bartender delivers a drink in the parking lot at Snowbank Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo. on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. Snowbank Brewing is one of the breweries that took advantage of the expanded patio program that allows approved businesses to utilize unconventional spaces and give patrons an option to stay outdoors during the pandemic.

Many establishments are getting increasingly creative. Alongside tents like Snowbank's, Riggs said some establishments across the state have turned igloos, greenhouses, yurts and even gondola cars in the state's mountain communities into added outdoor spaces.

Here are the Fort Collins bars, breweries, distilleries and restaurants that have employed heaters to help warm their outdoor patios this season. To ensure a business' heaters are up and running, please call the establishment ahead of time to confirm.

Did we miss your business? Email sarahkyle@coloradoan.com to request to be added to the online version of this story.

Note: An asterisk (*) denotes that a business has a heated and covered, or partially covered, space.

Bars

Blind Pig Pub, 214 Linden St.

Element, 125 S. College Ave.

*High Point Bar, 146 N. College Ave. 

Lucky Joe's Sidewalk Saloon, 25 Old Town Square

Pour Brothers Community Tavern, 220 Linden St.

*Tap and Handle, 307 S. College Ave. 

Taste and Savor Wine Bar, 3581 E. Harmony Road, No. 130

*The Town Pump, 124 N. College Ave. 

Breweries and distilleries

*CopperMuse Distillery, 244 N. College Ave., No. 105

*Equinox Brewing, 133 Remington St.

The Forge Publick House, 244 Old Firehouse Alley

Gilded Goat Brewing, 3500 S. College Ave., No. 194

Intersect Brewing, 2160 W. Drake Road, Unit A1

Maxline Brewing, 2724 McClelland Drive, No. 190

Obstacle Brewing and Grill, 4613 S. Mason St., Suite D1

Odell Brewing Co., 800 E. Lincoln Ave.

*The Reserve at Old Elk Distillery, 253 Linden St.

*Snowbank Brewing, 225 N. Lemay Ave., No. 1

Stodgy Brewing, 1802 Laporte Ave.

*Zwei Brewing, 4612 S. Mason St., No. 120

Restaurants

Ace Cafe at the Armstrong Hotel, 259 S. College Ave. 

*Bad Daddy's Burger Bar, 347 E. Foothills Parkway, No. 110

Brothers Bar & Grill, 147 S. College Ave. (partially heated)

Beau Jo's, 205 N. College Ave.

*Bistro Nautile, 150 W. Oak St.

Blue Agave Grill, 201 S. College Ave.

*The Cache at Ginger and Baker, 359 Linden St. 

Cafe Vino, 1200 S. College Ave. (partially heated)

*The Colorado Room, 642 S. College Ave.

*D.C. Oakes Brewhouse & Eatery, 3581 E. Harmony Road, No. 110 (partially heated)

Domenic's Bistro and Wine Bar, 931 E. Harmony Rd.

The Farmhouse at Jessup Farm, 1957 Jessup Drive

*Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, 123 N. College Ave. 

little on mountain, 1046 W. Mountain Ave.

Otto Pint, 1100 Oakridge Dr.

*Penrose Taphouse, 216 N. College Ave., No. 110

Plant to the Plate, 822 S. College Ave.

*RARE Italian, 101 S. College Ave.

*Restaurant 415, 415 S. Mason St.

Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, 143 W. Mountain Ave.

Rush Bowls, 3581 E. Harmony Road

*Silver Grill Cafe, 218 Walnut St. 

*Simmer, 2519 S. Shields St., No. 1F

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, 144 W. Mountain Ave.

Sushi Plus, 223 Linden St.

*Union Bar & Soda Fountain, 250 Jefferson St. (partially heated)

Uno Mas Taqueria, 120 W. Olive St., No. 104

*Vatos Tacos + Tequila, 200 N. College Ave. 

Other venues

The Lyric, 1209 N. College Ave.

*Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House, 316 Willow St. 

Outside Fort Collins

Backyard Bird Chicken and Donuts, 4650 Signal Tree Drive

Timnath Beerwerks, 4138 Main St., Timnath

Mishawaka Amphitheatre, 13714 Poudre Canyon Road, Bellvue

Erin Udell reports on news, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at ErinUdell@coloradoan.com. The only way she can keep doing what she does is with your support. If you subscribe, thank you.