Restaurant owner installs air purification system as cold weather brings more patrons inside

The Smack Shack in downtown Minneapolis is known for its fresh seafood, but now the restaurant is dishing up something customers won't see on the menu.

About a month ago, owner Josh Thoma installed a new ultraviolet light air purification system at the restaurant as the cold weather brings more patrons inside. Thoma also installed them at The Lexington in St. Paul, which he owns.

“The environment we are providing is as safe as we know how. We bought the latest technology we could. It took a long time getting here,” he said.

Thoma said the Sterilaire filtration systems cycle the air inside the restaurants past special high powered UV lightbulbs every 15 minutes, killing 99% of all mold, bacteria and viruses - including COVID-19 - in the process.

The Smack Shack in Minneapolis

“I think it’s mainly the application was hospitals and dentists or doctors’ offices. We are fortunate to be one of the first restaurants to offer this," he said.

The UV filtration systems aren't the only way Thoma's restaurants have had to adapt because of the pandemic. The Smack Shack recently added an infrared heating system to its outdoor patio so customers worried about dining indoors can use it all winter long.

Thoma said employees also use an electrostatic spray system to disinfect every surface with a USDA-approved microbial solution every day.

“Ultimately, people are going to continue to dine out. We're just trying to offer the best safe solution and the most comfortable for whatever level they feel possible."