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When Dinner is Outdoors, New Rules Apply

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Mr. Levitt, who lives in Manhattan, has learned the hard way that his feet become blocks of ice when he sits outside for an hour or more. He’s taken to wearing warm shoes with a few layers of socks, and he and his wife and children also make sure to bring blankets.

With their beanies, winter jackets and gloves, outdoor diners have the look of winter athletes. Erika Chou, a Manhattan restaurateur who operates the spots Kimika and Wayla, has seen people come in “with a full snowboarding outfit, like Burton head to toe,” she said.

Mr. Li swears by fleece-lined Heattech pants from Uniqlo and thick wool socks from L.L. Bean. Ms. Siskin has “a couple of tricks I picked up,” she said, including layering long underwear beneath her jeans and a thin Patagonia liner under her coat.

On a recent night, “I went out to dinner and wore those air-activated foot warmers that you buy for skiing,” she said. “I also got this hand warmer that’s been a game changer,” a rechargeable model by Ocoopa.

Restaurant owners are helping their customers stay warm, too. At the Odeon in New York’s TriBeCa neighborhood, there are the ubiquitous infrared heat lamps, along with microfiber blankets to rent for $7 or purchase for $20. The restaurant also has mylar blankets like the ones given to marathon runners for customers to use for free. Many other restaurants are providing blankets, too, which they wash or dry-clean after each use.

Even the best dishes don’t taste as good cold, so it’s worth considering how a restaurant has adapted.

Back in the fall, Cédric Vongerichten, the chef and owner of Wayan, which serves Indonesian food with a French flair, found that dishes like lobster noodles were getting cold in minutes. Inspired by his childhood in France, Mr. Vongerichten introduced a burner device like the ones for cheese fondue, which plugs into an electrical outlet at select tables, a concept he calls Indo-Chalet.


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