When it comes to fun and relaxation in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., East Las Olas Blvd. is the place to be. It’s packed with restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. In fact, real estate is at a premium along the 2-mile stretch, and businesses have to be creative to maximize space. That’s the dilemma Louie Bossi’s Ristorante faced when trying to make full use of the outdoor space, which is constricted on two sides by retail. To make the
tight-fitting patio useable for dining no matter the weather, Louie Bossi’s wanted a retractable canopy to cover the area, which measured approximately 1,714 square feet.
Restaurant management contacted Uni-Systems LLC, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based provider of moving structures. Uni-Systems installed an En-Fold canopy, a tensile structure designed specifically for this kind of large commercial application. Easy to retract using a wireless remote, the mechanics work by operating two drive beams that extend and retract the fabric panels on parallel tracks across the 37-foot, 8-inch-wide by 45-foot, 6-inch-deep space. The drive beams are supported by three portal frames that transfer the structural loads to the ground on columns and transversally to the building at the roofline.
For efficiency and cost savings, Uni-Systems connected the automated retraction system to the building fire panel, which activates the canopy retraction in the event of a signal from the restaurant’s fire detection system. This eliminated the need to install an expensive fire sprinkler system beneath the canopy.