Kilted Mermaid is a neighborhood craft beer and wine bar in Vero Beach, Florida. After almost a decade in business, Kilted Mermaid has become known for its funky vibe, fun events, and live original music.
Like most restaurants and bars, Kilted Mermaid has faced some challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When COVID happened, we were really struggling because everyone wanted to sit outside,” Kilted Mermaid owner Linda Moore explained.
Kilted Mermaid already had a patio for outdoor seating, but it was only partly covered and wouldn’t provide enough space to meet the rising demand for outdoor dining.
Luckily, the city offered a solution, suggesting that Kilted Mermaid use the road next to their patio area for additional outdoor seating. This area couldn’t be roofed using permanent construction, but the city was fine with the bar setting up a temporary structure there to create an extended covered seating area.
Taking the city’s suggestion, Linda set out to find the best outdoor dining structure to set up on the road: “I did a ton of online research on tents and called a bunch of different companies,” she explained.
Unsurprisingly, Linda’s searches were turning up a lot of party and wedding tents.
“A lot of restaurants around are putting up party tents,” she noted, “but they just don’t look nice. And water pools on the top of them sometimes.”
“I got to the point where the only companies I was taking seriously were ones that didn’t just make party tents. It got down to WeatherPort and one other company, but we liked that WeatherPort was made in the U.S. If we can buy American, we always do.”
When it came to choosing what kind of WeatherPort structure to use, Linda and the Kilted Mermaid team were eager for guidance: “We knew we wanted it to cover the space, but didn’t really know what else we needed.”
Fortunately, that’s exactly what WeatherPort building specialists are for.
“Chris was the first person I spoke to,” Linda recalled, “and he stayed with me throughout the whole process. It was the Jubilee Series we ended up going with.”
For the structure’s design, Kilted Mermaid wanted to ensure that the outdoor dining structure fit in with their bar’s funky interior. They decided to go with under-the-sea blue and green colors and hung up string lights to create a festive vibe.
The design is paying off: Customers say they feel like they are eating inside a tropical pool at night.
Kilted Mermaid decided to go with a sideless structure, partly because of current COVID requirements and partly because of the Florida weather.
“We knew that we could add walls later on if we wanted to, which is part of the reason why we went with this tent,” Linda said. “We wanted to have those features available, but I don’t think we’ll need them because of our climate here.”
Kilted Mermaid’s outdoor dining structure arrived about six weeks after they placed their order, and they were able to set it up as planned. Now they’re working on their landscaping to further improve the ambiance of the area: “Eventually one side of the tent is just going to be bamboo and palm trees.”
When asked if they are still enjoying their WeatherPort outdoor dining structure, Linda didn’t hesitate: “I’m so glad we went with WeatherPort — it’s just such good construction. It really exceeded our expectations — we were blown away by it.”
Linda was concerned about the colors fading from the strong Florida sun, but that hasn’t been an issue. “It’s just exactly the same as the day we got it.”
Since the city is going to let Kilted Mermaid keep the structure in the road long-term, their plan is to keep it up year-round: “The structure will be there forever. We might have to take the cover off if there’s a hurricane or something. But it’s pretty sturdy, so it would have to be a pretty strong hurricane for me to take it down.”
In the meantime, Linda is already recommending WeatherPort to other bars and restaurants that need additional covered outdoor seating during COVID-19 and beyond.
“I’ve been telling other restaurant owners about what a great tent it is. People really love it. It has really given our business a boost.”