Exterior Sliding Glass Walls Optimize Indoor/Outdoor Restaurant Experience

By NanaWall Systems, March 17, 2021

exterior sliding glass walls at Parc Detroit

Tucked within one of Detroit’s prevalent recreational destinations, Parc Detroit offers an outdoor dining experience like no other—with a pair of vanishing exterior sliding glass walls that blur the line between indoor and outdoor recreation. Campus Martius Park is literally at the city’s center, the “point of origin” for major thoroughfares that radiate in all directions. It hosts numerous events, from summer concerts and movie nights to a winter ice skating rink and the great Christmas tree lighting that draws thousands of spectators. It is a lively, colorful, and entertaining backdrop for dining. At first sight, the restaurant draws people in with lively ornamentation of greenery, as well as two dynamic glass walls that completely disappear out of sight.

closed exterior sliding glass walls

Exterior Sliding Glass Walls Create Indoor/Outdoor Atmosphere

The 2020 pandemic severely wounded the restaurant industry as several establishments around the country were forced to shut down their operations. When certain states allowed outdoor seating, most eateries were limited by small locations or lack of outdoor spaces, with some turning to creative approaches like sidewalk seating. The dining industry quickly learned that the way forward meant leveraging solutions that could accommodate a newfound demand centered around health and wellness. With retractable exterior sliding glass walls that practically blended the restaurant with the surrounding park, Par Detroit was ahead of the game.

indoor outdoor restaurant with exterior sliding glass walls

Taking Advantage of Prime Location

In 2016, what was formerly known as “Fountain Bistro,” underwent a renovation to become what is now Parc Detroit. From the beginning, Michelle Giglio, Director of Operations for the Iconic Collection of restaurants that includes Par Detroit, envisioned the establishment with moveable glass systems that could transform the space into an open-air, indoor/outdoor restaurant. The entire front and two shorter perpendicular walls of the old bistro were replaced by NanaWall HSW60 exterior sliding glass walls, opening about sixty percent of the dining area to the outdoors. “Being able to have all those views of the park and to incorporate all the excitement that goes on—the NanaWall systems just made sense,” says Giglio.

indoor outdoor restaurant with exterior sliding glass walls

Retractable Glass Façade Extends Restaurant to the Outdoors

The nine-foot-tall individual panels slide away and stack on parking bays on either side of the moving glass systems. The interior seating area blends into the courtyard but the tables right at the edge are the most popular—where it feels like being outdoors but with a roof offering protection from the sun. At nearly 46 feet wide, each system features 12 top-hung panels that glide on a guiding head track around a ninety-degree curve. The enhanced horizontal roller and guide track design of the HSW60 allows each individual panel to effortlessly move around corners and posts. “You feel like you are dining right in the middle of the park, but in a fine outdoor restaurant,” says Gaglio. “Even when closed, the exterior sliding glass walls are pristine and clear, and the background view really sets the tone for amazing moments to capture.”

dining right next to exterior sliding glass walls in Parc Detroit

Single Handed Operation Year-Round

Even in cold weather, the tables adjacent to the exterior sliding glass walls are always prized. The movable systems have been independently tested for air, water, and structural performance, as well as thermal efficiency that ensures comfort even when sitting right up next to the glass in cold Detroit winters. The system was specified with the ADA compliant Low Profile Saddle sill, which not only facilitates unobstructed egress and ingress but also reinforces insulation and energy efficiency. “I’d say one hundred percent of people request to be by the window or as closest to the outside they can get,” reveals Gaglio. “Even if it is the middle of winter where they can see the snowflakes falling through the glass.”

indoor outdoor restaurant with exterior sliding glass walls attracts customers

Long-Lasting Resilience for Years to Come

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the exterior sliding glass walls played an important part in Parc Detroit’s survival. After the first shutdown was lifted in June 2020, Parc was easily able to comply with the regulations for socially distanced table spacing. The opening glass wall systems were also crucial to business because of their psychological effect on customers.

“Having the open walls and the air circulation is something that made customers choose our restaurant,” says Gaglio. “Offering an outdoor restaurant space where it’s open and where there is airflow definitely drove our revenue and made everyone have a safer open-air dining experience.”

Learn how other establishments have leveraged outdoor restaurant design solutions with opening glass wall systems in our extensive Restaurant Applications library!