Timekeeper Distillery adapts to COVID with an outdoor dining greenhouse, covered patio


B.C. Kowalski

The greenhouse dining area is one of several innovations Timekeeper Distillery is undergoing to stay in business during the COVID-19 pandemic

It didn’t take long for Dan Weber to see the demand. Over the summer, demand for their outdoor patio space grew to the point where TimeKeeper Distillery started a waiting list for the socially distanced space. 

Clearly, there was a strong demand from folks who wanted to have a dining experience but didn’t necessarily want to be indoors because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He’d seen what some businesses in other communities were doing and decided to go for it. 

This weekend will see the official launch of Timekeepers’ outdoor greenhouse dining area. The distillery held a soft launch for the greenhouse a couple of weeks ago, and has now started taking reservations for the space. It seats six in an outdoor space with clean air and heaters, and apart from any other people. 

That the space looks great was no accident. In early tests with friends, Weber told City Pages, people though the idea was cool. It uses an ozone generators that sanitizes the air, and is something that distilleries already use so getting one made sense. But the space lacked some ambience. 

“It was something we wanted to work on but we didn’t know how,” Weber told City Pages. “So we worked with a few of our friends who do designing and they had some cool ideas to turn a regular greenhouse into an outdoor dining experience.” 

The change comes as Timekeeper is starting to become known for its food almost as much as its liquors and fancy cocktails. Customers told Weber, who owns Timekeeper with his wife Kim Weber, that they prefer to stay in one place these days, so providing food helped keep them there. The place is starting to become known for its small plate menu, flatbread pizza and lettuce tacos among other dishes. 

The greenhouse is the start of bigger changes Timekeeper is hoping to implement. The distillery is also working on winterizing its outdoor patio area by installing pre-made shelters with sheets to block the wind and radiant heat generators to keep the area warm. 

Weber thinks the changes will be a good investment for its business even post COVID-19. The greenhouse and outdoor patio will allow the business to offer outdoor dining longer into the season even in normal times, providing a unique experience in winter. But it’s especially important in what is likely to be a long winter. 

The innovations around COVID-19 started pretty early on. With shortages of sanitizer nationwide, Weber shifted Timekeeper to producing sanitizer, something a distillery is set up to do. That lasted a couple of months until national supplies returned to normal, closing the market for a small local supplier. Timekeeper also started selling bottles of pre-mixed cocktails that could be picked up curbside. 

But Weber especially likes that the greenhouse and patio give him opportunities to give employees hours, which helps since COVID-19 relief doesn’t seem anywhere in sight. “That’s a big part of it,” Weber says. “How can we get people here for the staff. We want to take care of them.”