Southwest Detroit restaurant offers unique ‘luminaria’ outdoor dining experience

Armando’s installed outdoor structures representing luminiarias

Southwest Detroit restaurant comes up with new twist on outdoor dining

DETROIT – With indoor dining services put on hold for months in Michigan, restaurants have found creative ways to remain open while following coronavirus safety protocols.

Throughout Metro Detroit, several restaurants have adopted igloo structures as a way to offer dining services outside amid the ban on indoor dining. But one restaurant in particular is doing things a bit differently, offering a more unique dining experience that’s specific to southwest Detroit, while still following state orders.

“I think we did have a good base. I understand -- when it was (at its) worst -- the need to tone things down. I’m really happy that we’re able to open back up again though,” said Cecilia Benedict, general manager at Armando’s restaurant in Detroit.

READ: Michigan restaurants to reopen with curfew, other safety restrictions in place

The pandemic has been tough on the owners of Armando’s, as it has for many restaurant owners in Michigan. The Mexicantown staple was forced to find a new way to do business amid the pandemic -- and, luckily, a business friend came up with a great idea.

“She created, along with a design team, a luminaria,” Benedict said. “Which is a Spanish-style lantern that’s used traditionally for outdoor celebrations.”

The new structures, called luminarias, offer restaurant patrons a unique dining option with a Mexicantown flare.

“The lighting is a key of the luminarias. It’s what gives its feeling of a lantern,” said Bill Schofield, whose company designed the structures.

Schofield’s company created and installed the heated structures that can be used year round. More luminarias like those at Armando’s are going to be constructed throughout this part of the city.

“We’re really excited to be one of the first restaurants to offer the luminarias,” Benedict said.

Beginning Feb. 1, Michigan restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining services, but with several restrictions in place. Most notably, restaurants can only operate at a maximum 25 percent capacity, and must close by a 10 p.m. curfew.

MORE: MDHHS announces next COVID order, revising rules for Michigan restaurants, stadiums, gatherings

About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.