Winter is coming, and restaurants are taking on the heat as they find ways to extend al fresco dining. The pressure to stay open and operational has forced many restaurants to think outside the box with outdoor seating arrangements.
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In New York City’s Upper West Side, Café du Soleil has taken to the forefront of creative problem-solving with plastic bubble dining pods dubbed as “space bubbles” to cushion the transition to colder and more hostile climates.
“I got so much good feedback from those bubbles that every single reservation is requesting a bubble,” Café du Soleil restaurant owner Alain Chevreux told FOX Business’s Kristina Partsinevelos.
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The dome-shaped structures are 7 feet tall and allow up to 6 guests. The French eatery features 18 plastic-eating bubbles on the sidewalk, which allow up to 80 guests to dine outside.
According to the the owner, the pods are ideal for rainy weather, and the restaruant will continue using them until they can no longer sustain dropping temperatures.
Navigating the cold weather presents another problem because the bubbles cannot be heated due to the plastic material.
And even though the city will open dining to 25% capacity starting Sept. 30, the restaurant industry is questioning whether this will be enough.
A recent survey from the NYC Hospitality Alliance indicates that nearly 90% of NYC bars and restaurants could not make ends meet on rent during the month of August. This tacks onto the restaurants that face permanent closure. According to Yelp’s September Local Economic Impact report, 32,109 restaurants, bars and nightlife establishments closed Aug. 31, and out of that number, 61% of restaurants will close for good.
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To add to the outlook of uncertainty, a recent spike in NYC’s coronavirus cases has posed a threat to another round of shutdowns. The NYC Health Department recently announced that it will close non-essential businesses in the city’s hotspots in the event that cases continue to spike.