Breckenridge restaurant plans to set up yurts for outdoor dining as town sets permitting rules
BRECKENRIDGE — Breckenridge is moving forward with plans to allow restaurants to set up tents on private property this fall and winter to increase the amount of tables they can provide with capacity limits.
The town has put together a permitting process — which involves the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District — for restaurants that wish to put up tents beginning Sept. 28.
Aurum Food & Wine in Breckenridge already has plans underway for setting up yurts. Aurum owner Phil Armstrong explained that he had seen yurt dining concepts in Aspen about a year ago.
“We were planning on doing these far before COVID became a reality, and then with the onset of COVID and trying to think about what we were going to do to ensure the year-round use of outdoor dining, we decided to track down the producer of these yurts,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong has ordered the yurts from a manufacturer outside of Bend, Oregon, and they are slated to arrive in October. After posting about the yurts on social media, the town of Breckenridge reached out to Armstrong to explain that the restaurant would have to go through a permitting process to put up the yurts. Armstrong said he was a bit surprised given the current structure of Walkable Main but is working to attain the necessary permits.
Armstrong anticipates each yurt will accommodate one group of six to eight people. At nearly $4,000 per yurt, Armstrong said he is confident that the yurts are sturdy. The units come with an electric infrared heating element that hangs from the top of the yurt, providing light and heat. A lantern that sits outside each yurt signals to the server that the group is requesting service. When the yurts arrive, one will be set up on the existing patio and the other will be set up on the grass to the right of the restaurant’s entrance.
Breckenridge community development planner Chapin LaChance explained that the permitting process requires a permit from the fire department as well as development and electric permits from the town. The town’s building department then would inspect any electric elements.
LaChance said the development permit also requires the business submit a site plan. LaChance said the town is encouraging people to be creative and thoughtful with their tent setups.
“This is all new for us. The idea is we’re definitely trying to encourage people to use their outdoor spaces as much as possible so they can comply with all of the regulations,” LaChance said in reference to indoor capacity limits.
The town’s FAQ sheet regarding winter tents, signs and outdoor merchandise notes that these allowances are only to give business owners flexibility during the pandemic, so they will be in effect for six months or until the mayor declares that the public health emergency no longer exists. The sheet listed locations where tents can be installed, giving priority to some locations over others, such as existing decks and patios, parking spaces and open space areas that are not for snow storage.
Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District Deputy Fire Marshal Jackie Pike said the department is working on some general standards and requirements for tents but that they have not been set in stone. Overall, the fire department wants to make sure tents can withstand wind and remain stable, that heating doesn’t create carbon monoxide issues and that snowmelt in the area is managed, avoiding slip hazards.
Pike said the department also wants to make sure electric elements, like cords, aren’t trip hazards, there is no smoking in the tents, the tents are flame resistant and there is emergency lighting in the tents in case the main lighting system fails. Pike said the fire department just wants to make sure the tents are safe and likely won’t charge fees for the permits.
In addition to tents, retail stores also will be able to display merchandise outdoors, and all businesses will be allowed additional signage. Retail stores are allowed to put out clothing racks, shelves or tables containing merchandise and a mannequin. Permits for those items are not required.
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