DENVER – Outdoor dining could be the next big thing in the Denver food hall scene.

In the past few years, several food halls have popped up across the city, and while the business model fosters a social vibe, there are some challenges to face in the COVID-19 era.

“It’s a pretty tight space. It can be very crowded. We didn’t want a lot of traffic in and out, so we decided to just sit outside,” said Kate Kaufman, operations director for Denver Central Market.

Tents were recently set up in the parking lot south of Denver Central Market so that customers can enjoy their food and drinks al fresco. The expanded outdoor seating began last weekend and includes a colorful alley with murals.

Denver Central Market has spun several times over the past few months. When restaurants were banned from eating food, the grocery hall functioned as a grocery store and remained open for takeout orders.

Security measures were taken when the guests returned. Before the pandemic, the food hall was full of people trying to grab a table as soon as someone got up. Now, outdoor tables have laminated signs that employees and customers can use to tell whether or not they have been disinfected.

“Outdoor dining is just so important to restaurants. The safety of our guests is so important, and the state rightly has this limit on 50% dining just to reduce density,” said Justin Croft, vice president of Development at Zeppelin development.

The Source Hotel and Market Hall will introduce a new concept called “Out Source”. The property’s front parking lot is being converted into an alfresco dining area with geodesic domes for guests to enjoy their meals.

The new space will be celebrated with The Family Jones and Smok during a special pop-up event. The event will take place on Friday June 26th. More details can be found here.

“So we’re going to put tables and chairs out here about ten feet apart, and then it’s going to be like a little zone in each dome,” said Croft.