Air Curtains + Garage Door Opening = Fly Free Open Dining Experience

Combining Barbecue and a Breathtaking View Raises Door Challenges at Roadside Restaurant

Photograph of The Stand's garage doors with air curtains above them

Berner Industrial Direct Drive 12 Air Curtain on Garage Door

The barbecue cuisine stands out at The Stand, however, equally important for the one-year-old Branford, Conn., restaurant’s popularity is the breathtaking view out of its two 10 x 10-foot garage door openings.

The Long Island Sound’s natural shoreline salt marshes, the 65-seat back patio, and The Stand’s large produce garden it cultivates in-house for its menu and retail are best viewed when the glass overhead doors are raised, not closed. In addition to the view, the open doorways enhance the total dining experience by inviting patrons to the backside of the property to stroll among the one-acre of surroundings.

The view, menu, and interior design create a unique synergy co-owner Eamon Roche conceived when buying the property anchored by a historic circa-1938 Mobil filling station and a decades-old produce stand. Eamon, who is also president of Manhattan-based restaurant and residential design/construction firm, Roundtable Builders, gutted the former two-bay service station down to the building envelope. A rustic, open-architectural ceiling and 75-seat interior uses local recycled barn wood and replicates the rustic timber design of the neighboring, 50-year-old roadside stand that still sells produce.

“I’ve designed and built many restaurants where I’ve tied together the interiors with the ambiance of a great outdoor view,” said Roche, who ensured the iconic Mobil Pegasus roadside signage remained, as well as dozens of well-used, rusted car repair tools that he saved from the scrap yard to accessorize the interior walls.

Flying Insect Challenge

While the open doorways played an important role in the restaurant’s early success, the nearby salt marshes’ inherent flying insects threatened to keep the doors closed and diminish the ambiance of faux outdoor dining. Local health inspectors also shared their disapproval at how the open-door setting caused an unsanitary insect infiltration inside.

“Customers who experienced the open doors prior to insect season were disappointed when they returned weeks later and anticipated the same open door experience,” said Roche. “When the doors were closed, people constantly asked us when we were going to open them.”

Roche and his investment co-partner, Greg Nobile, who is the youngest Broadway producer to win a Tony award, looked at a variety of screen doors, magnetic screens, clear PVC strips, and other options to keep flying insects out, but none of them combined aesthetics, efficacy, and operational convenience.

Instead, the local health department recommended air curtains to protect the doorways from flying insects while still allowing them to remain open for viewing purposes and access. Foodservice equipment distributor, HAFSCO, West Haven, Conn., and manufacturer’s representative Pardee, Freeman Inc., Gloucester, Mass., specified two air curtains manufactured by Berner International, New Castle, Pa. HAFSCO, a full-service foodservice distributor and specializes in restaurant, country club, and high-end foodservice applications, installed the two 10-foot-long Industrial Direct Drive series IDC12 air curtains. “We’ve specified many smaller air curtains for restaurant pedestrian doors and walk-in cooler entrances, but a 10 x 10-foot opening led us into the unfamiliar territory of industrial air curtains we hadn’t seen before,” said Austin Capobianco, vice president, HAFSCO.


The air curtains feature remote 24-volt control panels and heavy duty floor-mounted magnetic reed switches that automatically activate the air curtain when the door is opened for foolproof doorway protection. The highly-engineered combination of blowers and motors in a white powder-coated metal cabinet mounted above the door’s exterior discharges a controlled stream of air through field-adjustable (+/-20 degree) linear nozzles. The nozzles create a laminar, non-turbulent air stream that meets the floor approximately at the door openings’ threshold and creates an invisible barrier that flying insects can’t penetrate.

“The automatic operation we built into the project eliminates the potential of employees forgetting to turn on the air curtains, which also met the health inspectors’ approval,” said Roche.

The air curtains’ low profile requires only 16 inches of door header space. They’re high enough where diners don’t notice, and the low decibel motor operation is undetectable during busy dining periods. “If you’re standing beyond two feet of the air curtains, you can’t hear them,” Roche said. “We’ve created a laid-back, honky-tonk rural type of atmosphere where I didn’t want a lot of unsightly and noisy machinery and ductwork.

While the air curtains solved flying insect health code concerns, they also began to add to The Stand’s bottom line.

“Openness to the outdoors dramatically enhances the ambiance, which in turn leads to optimum profitability,” said Roche.