NYC bistro comes up with ingenious ‘space bubbles’ so patrons can dine alfresco into fall

Without a doubt, the months-long restrictions regarding public behaviors as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on have spawned some very creative ideas among business owners seeking to find ways to safely reopen.

And one New York City restaurant takes the cake, so to speak.

Located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the owners of Café du Soleil, a French-style bistro, has installed 18 “space bubbles” — see-through plastic tents that serve a dual purpose: Keeping patrons warm during the colder months while also adhering to social distancing rules still in effect in the Big Apple.

Again, the primary reason behind the bubbles is to make guests more comfortable while dining outside as fall approaches with its cooler temperatures. But no doubt they will also serve as ‘comfort zones’ for diners who are still concerned about contracting COVID-19.

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As for the bistro, restaurant owners debuted the bubbles earlier this month, ahead of a plan implemented by the city to allow eateries to reopen to 25 percent capacity Sept. 30.

The management team said they will keep the space bubbles in place beyond the Sept. 30 indoor reopening date, however.

“To survive the winter is very complicated,” said Maxime Rousselot, the managing partner of Café du Soleil, in a statement to Time Out New York. “We’ll try to have them as long as possible.”

According to Nadine Chevreux, who spoke to the West Side Rag, the bubbles have become increasingly popular with patrons.

“People want their bubbles,” said Chevreux, whose said her husband ordered the tents from a supplier online. “They actually ask for them, even if it’s not raining. Would you believe that?”

But not every city has welcomed the devices.

For example, a Japanese-themed restaurant in San Francisco was ordered to remove its three geodesic domes because city health officials said they did not provide for “adequate air flow.”

However, Chevreux remained unconcerned. She told the West Side Rag each dome comes with “openings on both sides, so they’re not enclosed.”

That comes with a caveat, though. The restaurant owner said she, like others who own eateries in the city, is “at the mercy of what the City of New York decides” is and is not appropriate.

Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that restaurants in the city could begin serving customers indoors at 25 percent capacity beginning at month’s end. But the lifting of mandated closures comes with a host of regulations that each owner must comply with or risk being shut down again.

Cuomo is said to have made the decision after restaurant owners complained that massive layoffs were coming as fall and winter approach.

New York City bars and restaurants have been closed since mid-March. They were ordered shut as “non-essential” ostensibly in a bid to ‘bend the curve’ of the coronavirus’ spread as the Big Apple became the country’s hotspot.

“This is not a decision I make lightly,” Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote on Twitter at the time. “These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”

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Jon Dougherty

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