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City Restaurants Can Apply for a Winter Greenhouse

Staff reports

The pandemic has curtailed indoor dining, so the city of Rochester is trying to help restaurants extend their outdoor season. File photo

During the pandemic, eating out has been just that – patio or sidewalk service at restaurants where indoor seating has been restricted or prohibited.

That wasn’t too big of a deal in the summer and fall. But even the so-far mild winter has proven to be an obstacle.

To help restaurants and encourage patrons to venture out, the city and several sponsors are providing free winter greenhouses for up to 25 establishments.

The 8-foot by 8-foot structures allow restaurants to extend their space outside and remain compliant with state coronavirus guidelines, including those in orange zones. The city is waiving outdoor dining permit fees during the pandemic and has developed a streamlined permitting process to facilitate a fast and safe opening.

The greenhouses will be distributed among city Neighborhood Service Center quadrants.

Applications for the greenhouses are being accepted until 5 p.m. Jan. 11. Go to

Roc Holiday Village is managing the application process. After a restaurant has applied, Roc Holiday Village staff will visit the site to determine whether the greenhouse will fit. If there are more eligible applicants in a quadrant than available greenhouses, a lottery will be held to determine the award.

“Small businesses, particularly restaurants and the hospitality industry, have been hit hard throughout the pandemic, and this will allow for some additional capacity to earn revenue during the cold winter months,” Ajamu Kitwana, vice president/director of Community Impact for ESL Federal Credit Union, wrote in a news release. ESL and the Rochester Area Community Foundation are among the sponsors.