Outdoor dining bubbles are the perfect solution for chilly NYC

Source: https://nypost.com/2020/09/22/nyc-restaurant-sets-up-dining-bubbles-as-weather-cools-down/

Care for some bubbly in your bubble?

A French restaurant on the Upper West Side has found an innovative solution to outdoor dining in the crisp early days of fall: round plastic tents to make diners feel as though they’re floating in their very own private snow globes.

Cafe du Soleil, on the corner of 104th Street and Broadway, constructed the germ barriers to allow diners to comfortably eat alfresco as the weather cools down. Outdoor dining is still the only legal option until Sept. 30, when indoor dining will resume at 25% capacity in the city.

Enthusiastic diners said the tents, which can open on two sides, shield them from the wind without triggering their claustrophobia.

“When we arrived, we were asked if we wanted to be sat under a bubble or just outside,” Naiara Parker, who dined at du Soleil on Monday evening, told The Post. “Obviously we chose a bubble, that was the whole reason we came there.”

Parker, 24, indulged in the restaurant’s three buckets of mussels for $24 deal, plus a Nutella crepe. The Murray Hill-based auditor wanted to safely meet up with her friends, but didn’t want to be shivering through the soup course.

The clear sheaths, which are open on two sides and curved at the top, are about 10 degrees warmer “if it’s windy,” said du Soleil’s co-owner Alain Chevreux. He spent $350 each on 16 of the tents, clearing out the online supplier that he found in July.

“The weather in September and October can be unpredictable,” said Chevreux, whose futuristic solution has delighted customers, who now specifically request to be seated in them. “They say, ‘Can we please be under the bubbles?’ and they all take photos,” said Chevreux.

The dining bubbles at Cafe du Soleil.
The dining bubbles at Cafe du Soleil.Brian Zak/NY PostBrian zak/NY Po

Chevreux had a lucky break when it came to finding space for the bubbles.

”Broadway’s sidewalks are very wide, so there is plenty of room,” he said. And the shelters, which can fit a maximum of six people can be put together in “less than a minute.”

Kelly Rogers, 21, who was a regular at Cafe du Soleil on the Upper West Side, where she lived for two years, called the domes “dope.” The talent agent, who recently moved to Williamsburg, made the trek to her old haunt with her roommate last weekend. “It feels like you’re in a European city there. It’s so warm and welcoming,” the talent agent told The Post.

Rogers said du Soleil’s open-air bubbles are a step up from the thin, cubicle-like plastic dividers favored by some restaurants. Those, she said, “make everything feel really claustrophobic.”

She and her roommate split a bottle of cabernet, the ‘Fettuccine a la Parisienne’ and escargot, and said the plastic tent “made it feel like a private experience, and not like you’re on top of everyone.”