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Downtown Iowa City testing ‘warming huts’ as winter outdoor seating

Published: Dec. 17, 2020 at 10:37 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) -N Linn Street in Iowa City has been closed to traffic since the summer...giving restaurants and customers space to spread out. Now, to adapt for winter, it’s added holiday lights and warming huts.

Peter Kessler is the owner of Goosetown Cafe. He says having access to the street makes him one of the luckiest businesses downtown. “The ability to have a street closed in front of your own restaurant, the ability to seat the street has given us a lot more flexibility to stay open, and employ people and find ways to make money,” says Kessler.

The ‘warming’ huts aren’t actually heated...but they do give people a place to get out of the wind and snow to enjoy a cup of coffee or wait for curbside pickup. Kessler says the street closure is part of a pilot program with the City of Iowa City, Iowa City Downtown District, and North-side businesses...testing customer’s interest in winter and outdoor seating.

He says he’s seen less people out since temperatures dropped, but that it’s critical to keep trying new things as the pandemic continues. “Information and news changes almost weekly. Just staying on top of it, and being poised to get people food in a safe manner, which is primarily curbside and takeout these days, and the use of delivery services,” says Kessler.

Kessler says the huts plan to stay up through the winter, and he’s hoping to keep the rest of the street seating into spring and summer of 2021.

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