Necessity, the Mother of Gondola Dining

Necessity, the Mother of Gondola Dining
Telluride's latest tourist appeal—gondola dining, Photo Credit: tellurideski/Instagram

Restaurants in chilly Colorado are ensuring social distancing and après-ski-style dining with refurbished and well-equipped ski gondolas

OT Staff
February 28 , 2021
05 Min Read

I don't like throwing away old boxes and cardboard cartons. Only last month I splurged what seemed like a fortune on old wooden drawers and trays. I fantasise about assembling automatons and medicine boxes for dying megalomaniacs with this junk one day. Are you amused? Well, don't be, because gondola-polishing veteran Dominique Bastien from Colorado didn't think much differently went she started collecting fleets of old ski gondolas. Bastien's chief enterprise took a tumble with the outbreak of the pandemic, but a change of clientele eventually has helped give a new turn to her business.

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For the past few months, her side-enterprise, The Gondola Shop, has done good business supplying upcycled ski gondolas as Covid-19-safe, isolated and socially distanced dining pods for local restaurants. The primary concern for a lot of the establishments availing her services is the icy Colorado winter, known for its harsh snowstorms that deliver the area's famous Champagne Powder. The revamped gondola cars help these restaurants provide easily sanitized and snug spaces to diners at a time when the latter are usually averse to stepping out for leisure activity.

Read: Unlocking Malls, Hotels and Restaurants

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Read: World’s First ‘Butter Bar’ Opens In Colorado

Added to that is the fact that gondolas make for great social media eye candy and bring to the dining table an element of snowtime romance and the apres-ski picnic vibe. It isn't just Colorado—known for its iconic ski resorts and towns—that's witnessing this spurt in gondolas as dining spaces. Restaurateurs in states like Ohio are fast warming up to them. 

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Crises are often followed by innovation in travel and dining, be it the plague-era wine windows of Tuscany—which saw a revival late last year—isolated parklets, sidewalk-cafes and cul-de-sac cafés, drive-through restaurants and increased use of robots in service. Gondolas blend necessity with a much-needed spin to indoor dining done al fresco, introducing a theme to the whole experience, much like the flying-restaurant concept of a restaurant that started operations in 2019 in Delhi NCR. For restaurants offering mixed seating, the gondolas bring in an element of exclusivity, much like a window seat on public transport or a balcony seat in a cinema hall. 

Read: Dhoti. Saree. Ski

Restaurants can buy these cable cars as-is, or refurbished and customised, or rent them if they don't want to make that big an investment. Each gondola typically fits up to six diners, ideally from the same group/family members considered part of the same bio-bubble. They are equipped with heating, lighting and Bluetooth speakers.

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