photo: courtesy mensa heating 

Every Chicagoan has shivered through a dinner, eating with numb fingers, in an attempt to force a freezing al fresco dining experience. But there's hope for the cold sidewalk cafes of our city. Here's a look at future of heated outdoor dining.

The Atlantic Cities reports that the city of Paris solicited innovators from around the world to make plans for more efficient heated, open-air terraces for their cafés.

Three ideas stand out: Urban Parasols, Mensa Heating and Dext Heat Recovery. The first idea is a semi-enclosed yet self-sufficient space. Think a better CTA warming shelter.

The second plan—the really enticing option shown above—turns parts of the tables into heating elements, warming the legs (and maybe the food?) of chilly al fresco diners.

The third idea redistributes the excess heat from the kitchens. It sounds like a great way to conserve waste heat and save energy.

With Chicago restaurants surely looking to extend that short but sweet outdoor dining season, we can only hope some of these ideas become reality in time for us to enjoy them—Big Star, we're looking at you.