FARGO — Chefs at CRAVE were grilling, frying and sautéing their way through another lunch rush Sunday, Nov. 22.

While the heat was high inside the kitchen, some customers were also feeling heat on the patio inside one of CRAVE's four new dining igloos, a first for the Minnesota-based restaurant chain.

"(We're) guinea pigs, pilots, whichever you want to go with," said Joe Brown, the general manager of CRAVE in Fargo.

One of the first people to step inside a pod was Alissa Adams, the chief operating officer for West Acres, and her family.

She said she's excited to see the project come together.

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"(It was) really awesome to experience it from the customer's point of view," Adams said. "From a West Acres standpoint, we've been really pleased."

Each bubble is closed off by a zipper and connected to a central heating system that can be controlled by staff.

A server with CRAVE gives food to one of the daughters of West Acres chief operating officer Alissa Adams. Tanner Robinson / WDAY
A server with CRAVE gives food to one of the daughters of West Acres chief operating officer Alissa Adams. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

Although the original idea was to protect from the elements, Brown said the pandemic gave an unintended second benefit to the igloos.

"This is an idea we would've loved in a non-COVID world, and it just happens to work really well with where we are right now," he said.

While Sunday was only day one of the new-look patio, Brown said the true test will come later.

"We're excited to see kind of what they do when it's really cold outside, but we'll find that out when we get there," he said. "I'm pretty confident they're gonna be toasty."

Igloos can be reserved for $150 per party, but Brown said the patio is booked for the rest of the year.

However, the restaurant is starting to take reservation calls for January.