Chill Out

The Roof Offers Icy New Outdoor Eating Experience

Snuggle up with a hot cocktail in a new way this winter season with The Roof’s latest addition — igloos.

The structures debuted with a soft opening on Nov 21. As soon as the five igloos were constructed on the rooftop bar, The Roof used word of mouth and a social media post to advertise the event.

Jeff Guinn, Vice President of Food & Beverage Hospitality, says the idea for the igloos came from the owner of his company, who drew inspiration from bars in larger cities offering similar experiences for their guests.

“You see it in some bigger city markets,” he says. “New York, Chicago, London — some bigger markets like that have them,” he says. “It’s a rarer thing to find in smaller cities the size of Columbia, so it’s kind of cool to have that here.”

Inside each of the structures is a sectional sofa with cushions and throw pillows, end tables, a center coffee table, decks of cards, LED candles, lighting and, most important, heat. Each igloo’s furniture varies slightly, with some having small side chairs inside.

“[The igloos] get people out on the patio to enjoy some patio weather and be out of their element in a nice, cool, cozy environment in the winter months,” Guinn says.

While heating is undoubtedly a vital aspect of the igloos during the colder months, the structures themselves actually trap sunlight, thereby staying relatively warm. As a result, Guinn says, they are pretty comfortable during 30- to 40-degree weather.

“We don’t necessarily have beautiful, sunny 70- to 80-degree weather all year round,” he says. “If we would, our patios would be full all year round. It’s a cool and unique way to kind of play into the vibe of Columbia, The District and give people a unique way to experience a night on the town.”

To construct the igloos, they built a prototype, then disassembled it and gathered materials for the five models, which were then assembled on the rooftop terrace. In addition to building the structures themselves, they designed the flooring and installed carpets and furniture.

Each igloo is made of a thick plastic material frame designed to weigh down the structure and allow it to house wiring and electricity for the colored LED lights. Greenhouse plastic covers the frame.

The Roof accepts igloo reservations on their website in 90-minute intervals, with each structure fitting as many as eight people. To secure a reservation, guests must pay a $300 food and beverage minimum.

Igloos not reserved can be used free of charge by anyone on a first-come, first-served basis, which allows smaller groups of two or three people to mingle with one another inside the igloos. Whether reserved or not, all will operate during The Roof’s normal business hours until March.

“Reservations are definitely filling up quickly with the holidays and other celebrations,” Guinn says. “They are definitely taking off pretty quick.”

Customers can look forward to The Roof’s seasonal food and drink menu which includes specialties such as hot apple cider and a spiced pear martini.

“We have a menu that will rotate throughout the winter as we go into January, February and March,” Guinn says. “It’s a small, special menu that kind of highlights some of those seasonal items and seasonal cocktails and plays off of the uniqueness of the igloos themselves.”

Guinn says many out-of-town guests staying at The Broadway bring family and friends to try out the unique experience upstairs at The Roof. He notes that feedback has been largely positive thus far, with many customers posting photos of the igloos to Instagram.

“With the food and beverage industry, it’s all about friends and family and community,” Guinn says. “So, getting together to enjoy and experience this, I hope that they get to experience some quality time with friends and have some fun while doing it.”

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