Former Ski Gondolas Converted to Swanky Outdoor Dining

Ski trips may be effectively canceled, but a little piece of those vacations may live on via fine dining during the coronavirus pandemic. Dominique Bastien, owner of The Gondola Shop, spends her time purchasing old gondolas to repurpose for other uses, like luxurious saunas. These gondolas are painstakingly renewed by her shop’s workers and delivered at a reasonably high cost, due to their weight and size. However, one use they had never applied their skills to before: isolated, pandemic-safe dining.

Food and Wine describe the story of Mountain Tap Brewery, a Colorado restaurant in Steamboat Springs. Like many eateries around the country, Mountain Tap has been struggling through the pandemic, despite its placement in Steamboat Springs’ “Restaurant Row.” Now in business for approximately five years, the restaurant adapted to takeout orders, with limited dine-in available on the patio a challenge during Steamboat Springs’ freezing temps and snowstorms.

Apparently, Mountain Tap’s accountant had the idea to offer gondolas as enclosed spaces for distanced guests of the restaurant, a mix of outdoor and indoor dining. The two businesses connected and Bastien shipped them three converted gondolas as swanky private dining spaces, each able to seat six adults and available to reserve starting in November. The gondolas were a big hit in Steamboat Springs.

Gondola renewal is Bastien’s literal trade, and she’s been polishing and repainting them for over 20 years; interestingly, her company Sunshine Polishing Technology is purportedly the only company in the world that provides this service. Purchasing gondolas, however, was a relatively new interest, and she began buying them three years ago, despite not knowing exactly what to do with them at the time.

There was no need for regular gondola polishing once the pandemic hit. However, becoming the proud new owner of approximately 150 used gondolas meant that Bastien could now spend the time to apply them to new uses. In addition to Mountain Tap, restaurants all over the country began tapping Bastien for more, turning her spur-of-the-moment purchases into the new must-have adaptation to socially-distanced dining.

Those interested in getting their own repurposed gondola can visit The Gondola Shop, but note that they’re in high demand and don’t come cheap!

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