| The Taunton Daily Gazette
TAUNTON — Weir Village’s newest restaurant Riverhouse curated some COVID-safe winter fun by offering outdoor patio seating with lights, music and — most excitingly — heated igloos.
But with temperatures beginning to warm, if you want to experience the magic, you’ll need to book an igloo before the end of this month, when the restaurant plans to retire the igloos for the year.
General Manager and Co-Owner Cheryl Latour opened the restaurant with her co-owners — Marc Mason, Nicholas Pothier and Leslie Hutchison — on Nov. 7, 2020.
When they opened, Latour said, they had to make sure tables were six feet apart and could only have 40% of their restaurant capacity filled. With the restaurant’s seating so restricted, she searched for ways to expand it within what space she had available.
“We built a beautiful patio out there. And of course, it was winter now, so no one could sit on it,” she said. “And I was just trying to expand my seating and thought, ‘Hey, let’s put some igloos out there.'”
The restaurant has five igloos, each of which can hold eight people. Though right now, because of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, they can only seat six.
Each plastic igloo has a small heater inside, as well as one on top, to keep diners warm.
“They’re really toasty. I just went out there now and people didn’t even have their jackets on inside there,” Latour said. “They get like a greenhouse in there. They get really warm.”
To protect against the coronavirus, Latour said, the restaurant leaves half an hour between each igloo booking to sanitize the walls of the igloo and everything inside and then to air it out. She said they also use disposable menus and tablecloths that are thrown away after each party leaves.
Latour said the igloos are very popular, with people often scheduling small gatherings and parties inside them for household friends and family.
“It’s kind of fun because you’re in there and you can make as much noise and laugh as loud as you want,” she said. “You’re not bothering anyone like you would be sitting inside a restaurant. You’ve got your privacy in there.”
In fact, the igloos are such a popular attraction, Latour said, they are entirely booked on weekend nights through the end of the month. Those who wish to experience them before they are put away for the year will need to book a weekday night soon.
To book an igloo, diners must pay $5 per person in advance to reserve the igloo. But Latour said that money goes to a good cause. In the month of January, she said Riverhouse gave the reservation money to Matthew Mission. In February, that money went to Taunton Area Community Table, and this month, the money will go to the Taunton Animal Shelter.
Still, there’s good news for those who miss the igloos this year. Not only will they be returning next year, Latour said, but when the igloos are put away, Riverhouse will be putting out a new fire pit so that diners can still enjoy their patio.