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Al’s French Frys gets creative with new outdoor dining option

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 12:13 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 18, 2021 at 4:45 AM EST
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Al’s French Frys is heating up more than just golden potatoes. Now, they’re encouraging people to grab something to eat in one of their new heated greenhouses.

The South Burlington institution says they’ve been successful relying on being the same ’50s-themed spot that people can count on. Staffers say they’ve been putting up the greenhouses over the last few months, but when they posted them online, they got a ton of attention.

“We thought this was a creative way to get some more space and get some people to come out,” said Shane Bissonette, the restaurant’s manager. “Just one more thing we’re trying to do to fight it out and make it through all of this until we can get everybody vaccinated and we are in a better spot.”

Health experts say being in a confined space with little to no ventilation is similar to eating indoors, especially when dealing with a virus that is spread by airborne droplets and close contact, but Bissonette says the pods are designed for only families from one household to be inside at a time. They say the spaces are cleaned between uses.

“We are doing rounds. They are doing sanitation rounds every ten minutes, so every time this thing gets turned over, they’ll go in, open the doors, there’s ventilation in the roof as well, so we’ll go in wipe it down, sanitize it out and get it ready for the next customer,” Bissonette said.

Customers tell us that returning to a “normal” dining experience is encouraging.

“We’re kind of happy to come here. We’ve been ordering and picking up from the window, so it’s kind of nice, it almost feels like I’m a kid trying to play in the snow,” said Hani Nakhleh of Shelburne.

Bissonette says they are very proud they haven’t had to lay off any of the staff during the pandemic. He says that without the tightknit staff, he doesn’t know if the restaurant would have been able to survive.

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