By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 13, 2020 at 9:00 AM Photography: Matt Moeller

While restaurants are installing patio heaters and chalets of all kinds to help fend off the winter, The Blind Horse Winery & Restaurant, at 6018 Superior Ave. in Kohler, is preparing to welcome diners inside safely when the weather gets untenable outside.

The restaurant, which also has a patio with firepits, is, according to Melbourne, Florida-based Healthe, Inc., the first restaurant in the country to install Healthe’s Far-UVC 222 ultraviolet light technology, which it says, “provides real-time mitigation of harmful pathogens and viruses.”

The restaurant will install the system this month.

"I'm excited to see new technology being installed at The Blind Horse that can be a potential shining light to an industry that is suffering right now," said Sheboygan County Health Inspector Dave Roettger.

"It's impressive that The Blind Horse has invested in such groundbreaking technology in Sheboygan County to help keep our citizens safe." 

Other restaurants have installed other UV systems to battle the virus.

Healthe says that research has shown that the technology is at least as effective – or more so – than conventional UVC light at diarming pathogens like viruses and bacteria.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Columbia University found that, “Germicidal ultraviolet light, typically at 254 nm, is effective in this context but, used directly, can be a health hazard to skin and eyes. By contrast, far-UVC light (207–222 nm) efficiently kills pathogens potentially without harm to exposed human tissues.”

“Of utmost importance to us is that we provide a safe environment so our guests and employees have the opportunity to feel a sense of normalcy and well being that has been shaken by COVID-19,” said The Blind Horse General Manager and Master Winemaker Thomas Nye.

"Real time mitigation of the virus has been our goal since this crisis began. The suite of safety protocols and technology that we are installing is extensive and unprecedented in our industry.

Our customers have come to expect The Blind Horse to be a leader, and we are proud to be at the forefront in utilizing this technology in the restaurant and winery industry."   

The system works by deactivating surface and airborne contaminants and will be installed in the bar and dining areas of The Blind Horse and its Granary building. It will be installed in the form of 18 ceiling-mounted lights that provide a blend of traditional lighting and Far-UVC 222 sanitizing light.

“We are excited to deploy this technology and to obtain the added peace of mind it will provide. The installation comes at an especially critical time for restaurants in the Midwest and throughout the country as outdoor dining ceases to be a viable option and diners head indoors," said Nye.

“The Blind Horse is exhausting all procedures, products and processes to create a safer hospitality experience and to lessen the impact of our current climate. Everyone is seeking a ‘shining light’ to inspire our struggling industry. The cost, especially for a small business, is daunting. Our customers and staff appreciate all the time, money and effort to create a safer environment.”

The restaurant and winery has also installed two BigAssFans Clean Air Systems; Shock & Shield Protection Program by Milwaukee’s Green Up Solutions, which uses ultraviolet light treatment and antimicrobial protection in its 90-day treatment plan;  nightly ozone treatment of all indoor spaces; operating indoor air filters; servers will wear copper woven masks for further antimicrobial protection; and staff are undergoing ServSafe COVID-19 training.

In addition, The Blind Horse has increased outdoor seating capacity on its large property by adding popup tents that are available by reservation.

"The Blind Horse Winery & Restaurant is flourishing largely in part to their innovative, enhanced safety measures," said restaurant owner Bob Moeller. "The totality of which have helped tremendously in combating pandemic-related blows that have desperately hurt the restaurant, winery and hospitality industries."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.