SARATOGA SPRINGS — Prime at Saratoga National is making outdoor dining possible this winter, an amenity that the leader of a regional chamber of commerce says the area needs more of as COVID-19 cases climb again.
Located at 458 Union Ave., the elegant-dining steakhouse that is owned by Mazzone Hospitality announced Monday it is adding seven solar-powered, heated dining pods.
Named The Village at Prime, the dining area is a partnership with SolarFi, the company that provides the outdoor pods at New York City’s Eataly and New York Fashion Week. The company provides a safe way to enjoy the outdoors using clean energy, accessibility, and comfort.
The Village at Prime is open for lunch at 11:30 a.m. and dinner at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, beginning next week.
The pods accommodate parties of two to 10 people. They are each uniquely decorated and include medical-grade HEPA air filters and USB charging ports. They are 100% ultraviolet resistant and made from 100% recycled material.
SolarFi partners with restaurants by offering lease or revenue share opportunities.
”People are looking for special dining experiences, even during the pandemic,” Heather O’Neil, general manager of Prime at Saratoga National, said in a statement. ”The Village at Prime is a way for people to enjoy a special night out while staying safe and practicing social distancing.”
Antonio Dixon, SolarFi’s creative director, said: “We are honored to partner with the leading hospitality group in upstate New York. Mazzone Hospitality and Prime at Saratoga National are more than a caterer and restaurant — they are the best of the best.”
Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said:
“These are the types of pods that have been popular throughout the country, because you are essentially sitting with people you know and trust, and many are in your social group to begin with. That way, at least for my group, if I was going there, I would know that everybody was vaccinated and boostered. I would feel incredibly comfortable being inside there.”
While the Adelphi Hotel’s restaurant offered heated “igloos” that were similar to The Village at Prime last year, a hotel representative said it is not offering the igloos this year due to a construction project.
Said Shimkus: “There are certainly other restaurants that purchased heaters, and in some communities where they don’t have the extensive restrictions that we’ve got in the city, they’re able to use the heaters to keep people in tents, to keep people warm. So I think it is one of those trends that frankly is probably here to stay, and for years to come. It’s a unique way to have a meal and celebrate with friends and family.”
“Across Saratoga County, there’s an opportunity for us,” Shimkus said. “We saw with outdoor dining in the summer of 2020 the only thing we had in terms of providing a racetrack experience for fans when fans weren’t allowed at the racetrack was the fact that three dozen or so local restaurants set up outdoor viewing parties.”
“That really worked. It helped us attract leisure tourists to Saratoga County and I do believe more dining experiences like this would appeal to people outside of the region and make Saratoga a destination for winter tourism this year.”
Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.