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Updated: March 16, 2021

New statewide campaign showcases restaurants offering safe outdoor dining

Courtesy / Cliff House The Cliff House in Cape Neddick has set up outdoor "igloos" for diners.

A statewide marketing campaign, “Maine Outdoor Dine,” launched Monday to showcase Maine restaurants and breweries that offer ways to enjoy food and drink comfortably and safely outdoors. 

The campaign‘s website,, provides information about more than 80 participating businesses from around the state, with more being added every week.

Click here to view the website.

Funded by the Maine Office of Tourism and developed by the Greater Portland Council of Governments, the campaign is running a video on social media and also offers a chance to win $50 gift cards at participating locations. To enter, customers must share a photo on social media of their outdoor dining experience.

Many restaurants have already invested in facilities to keep customers comfortable outdoors, including globes, deck porches, covered structures, fire pits, fish shacks, greenhouses and heat lamps. 

Rob Whisenant, owner of Bruno's Wood-Fired Pizzeria in Bath, said the campaign is a "welcome boost for restaurants." When the pandemic hit last spring, Whisenant built a patio and installed an outdoor fireplace. He later installed a system of aluminum tubing that carries heat from a furnace to customers' tables. 

"Here at Bruno's Wood-Fired Pizzeria, and I'm sure this goes for all Maine restaurateurs, we appreciate the attention the Maine Outdoor Dine campaign has given us," Whisenant said in the release. "We all had to be creative in figuring out ways, sometimes expensive ways, to keep our patrons coming back during this challenging time. It hasn't been easy for them or us.”

Kanu in Old Town installed plastic domes on its roof. The domes, called “igloos,” have been so popular that the restaurant plans to keep them indefinitely, said Kanu owner Alex Gray.

Courtesy / Greater Portland Council of Governments
Dining igloos dot the rooftop deck of an Old Town restaurant, Kanu.

“COVID had been difficult on restaurants for so many reasons, Gray said. “The team and I have been looking at the silver linings of COVID as a distraction, and one of them is outdoor dining. Our rooftop Igloos will continue on long after COVID is a distant memory. Our guests love the experience, and we are continuing to look for ways to improve the outdoor experience in the years to come.”

The Cliff House on Cape Neddick in York installed several igloos on the lawn outside its restaurant, Nubb's Lobster Shack. 

Cliff House’s dining “igloos,” set up as a novelty last winter, came in handy during the pandemic and now appear to be a hit. 

"The Maine Office of Tourism is pleased to support this statewide initiative," Maine Office of Tourism Director Steve Lyons said. "Maine Outdoor Dine is a testament to the hard work and creativity of businesses throughout Maine that have adapted to create safe outdoor dining options for our residents and visitors."

“COVID-19’s impact on local restaurants has been devastating,” said Daniel Stevenson, economic development director for the city of Westbrook, which has been working this winter with the Greater Portland Council of Governments and other partners to find ways to help local restaurants. 

The council received a $50,000 grant from the Maine Office of Tourism to fund the campaign. Partners include the Greater Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Portland Downtown, Visit Portland, Portland Food Map, HospitalityMaine and the cities of Portland and Westbrook.

"As we work to help our local restaurants make it through the last months of the pandemic, we hope people across the state will go out to eat and help our small businesses survive until things go back to normal,” said Kristina Egan, executive director of the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

Lynn Tillotson, president and CEO of Visit Portland, said she looks forward to the concept continuing beyond the pandemic. 

"This campaign provides a way to focus the attention on dining outside, embracing Maine’s cooler seasons, and encouraging people to be adventurous and have some fun,” she said.

The Maine Outdoor Dine website will be expanded to include more outdoor dining options throughout Maine. Restaurants and breweries are eligible to be included on the website if they currently offer outdoor table service. Restaurant managers are encouraged to submit information about what they offer using a form on the website.

The ad campaign will run for six weeks.

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