Like most cities, Portland, ME has placed restrictions on indoor dining. This isn’t so much a problem during the summertime as it is during the winter when the snow falls and there’s always a crisp chill in the air. While many restaurants have been using electric and/or gas outdoor heaters to keep their guests comfortable, Jocelyn Olsen and Colin Greig hope to further the comfort of guests by supplying restaurants with heated cushions.
Their company is called Huga, a name inspired by the Danish word “hygge” which translates to “feeling comfortable.” It took the duo months of experiments and sourcing materials to reach perfection, but it seems as though they have done it! The final result is a polyurethane foam with a vinyl casing. Each cushion has a toggle with three heat settings and a rechargeable battery pack. If their cushions are widely implemented, that could mean more support for the restaurants in Portland.
“Portland is a big food town. It’s been killing us to not be able to go out to eat,” Greig said.
The first location to receive the cushions was the Bayside distillery Three of Strong. Owner Sam Pierce gave the cushions a test run on his patio and said that his customers loved them. Pierce already has a few propane heaters on the patio, but he says that the cushions will make a great addition. The barstools on the patio are made of metal and customers can get quite chilly despite the propane heaters.
“We’re very happy to be the first” to use the Huga cushions, Pierce said.
Each heated cushion costs $125, but they may be more cost efficient than running multiple propane heaters which cost upward of $700 each. In addition to the initial cost of each propane heater, restaurant owners also have to pay for propane regularly - each tank only lasts for a couple of days during the winter.
On the other hand, Huga heating pads are battery powered. They can reach up to 120 degrees after only a few minutes, and last for 8-hours before needing to be recharged. At the end of the night, the restaurant staff just has to plug the heating pad into a USB port and they will be ready to go when the restaurant opens the next day.
Huga heating pads are available to anyone who wants to purchase them – not just restaurant owners! The people of Maine may find that the heating pads are a perfect addition to their porch or patio, and great to use at the hockey rink.
Since the product has gone live on the Huga website, they have fulfilled orders for two additional Portland restaurants, as well as a few in Texas, Michigan, and beyond. The owners hope that their invention can support their beloved community’s restaurants, as well as many others in the United States, during a time when there is so much uncertainty. If they are able to get people to visit their favorite restaurants, despite the cold weather, they have met their goal!