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Southwest Detroit Erects Heated Outdoor Dining Enclosures For Neighborhood Restaurants

The structures are designed to mimic paper lanterns called luminarias

A computer rendering of a five-sided glass enclosure that looks like a hut with a dining table inside.
A rendering of Southwest Detroit’s luminarias.
AptumBuild Solutions
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Restaurants in Southwest Detroit are gaining some new outdoor seating enclosures in January to help encourage comfortable pandemic dining. The so-called luminarias are designed to mimic the look of traditional paper lanterns indigenous to the southwestern United States and Central America with heated, sheltered seating for up to six people.

The Southwest Detroit Business Association is undertaking the program in partnership with the Hudson Webber Foundation, AptumBuild Solutions, and Diseños Ornamental Iron, per a release. The organizations plan to install a total of 15 luminarias near several participating local restaurants now through February 2021. Each eight-by-eight-foot, five-sided luminaria is constructed from plexiglass and iron with customizable colored lighting. The first is being installed at Armando’s Mexican Restaurant on West Vernor.

Currently, restaurants and bars across are closed for indoor service through Friday, January 15 as part of an effort to slow the winter surge of COVID-19 cases in Michigan. However, businesses are permitted to offer certain types of outdoor dining under the state epidemic order. Enclosed seating areas like the luminarias are allowed under the order, so long as seating is limited to six people or less from the same household.

Nevertheless, creating comfortable outdoor dining spaces built to withstand a Michigan winter can be costly and many businesses cannot afford to invest the equipment necessary to execute heated patio dining that complies with state orders. The Southwest Detroit Business Association program is designed to address that need by covering a large portion of the cost of manufacturing and installing the luminarias. The program is still signing up restaurants for a limited supply of these outdoor structures. Participating restaurants are required to make a $1,000 financial contribution for the luminaria and can reach out for more details on getting one installed by emailing Jennifer Gomez at

This isn’t the first time that an organization has stepped in during the pandemic to assist restaurants in creating outdoor dining spaces. Downtown Detroit real estate firm Bedrock announced in December that it would install outdoor dining pergolas at several restaurant properties to encourage outdoor dining.

Bedrock Installs Outdoor Heated Seating Areas for Restaurants to Help Entice Visitors Back Downtown [ED]
All Outdoor Dining Coverage [E]

Armando's Mexican Restaurant

4242 Vernor Highway, , MI 48209 (313) 554-0666 Visit Website