November 24, 2020

With cold weather fast approaching, local restaurants have implemented bubble dining for an increased sense of security amidst the everchanging COVID-19 pandemic.

This new form of dining allows restaurant guests to safely and comfortably dine outside throughout the winter in a heated, plastic shaped dome.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) predicts that 60 per cent of restaurants across Canada will permanently close by the end of this year due to COVID-19. The recent closures of Abe Erb, Symposium Cafe and Crossroads Family Restaurant, prove the Waterloo Region to be no exception.

Jennifer Eddings, Director of Sales for Waterloo Region Tourism, believes the upcoming months will be challenging for local restaurants.

“A step back to stage two, coupled with the winter months and the majority of seasonal patios closing will certainly create hardship for restaurants,” said Eddings. “The good news is many restaurants over the last few months have implemented new systems they didn’t have prior to COVID-19 and the initial lockdown.”

While restaurants immensely contribute to tourism in the Waterloo Region, Eddings thinks the implementation of bubble dining will positively impact local tourism.

“I think bubble dining is a novel, safe alternative for locals and visitors and could certainly cut back on cabin fever throughout the winter months, all while supporting local restaurants.”

The Village Biergarten, a restaurant located in St. Jacobs, implemented bubble dining in September. It is currently one of the only restaurants in the region with this form of outdoor dining in place.

“It’s a new and exciting way to dine,” said Rob Brown, general manager of The Village Biergarten. “We thought it would be a clever and safe way to contend with not only the weather but also COVID-19.”

The restaurant has installed eight domes that allow for a capacity of 48 guests. According to Brown, the popularity of these domes has resulted in the restaurant booking reservations for nearly two months in advance.

Each dome can be booked for two hours at a time but guests are only allowed one hour and 45 minutes. Brown emphasizes that they take health and safety seriously and use the rest of the reservation time to thoroughly clean and sanitize the space.

Kitchener resident Kaitlin Rankl recently experienced bubble dining for her first time at The Village Biergarten.

“The experience was pretty cool,” said Rankl. “Being in a different atmosphere like that makes the dining experience much more unique.”

With limited space indoors and patio season coming to an end, she thinks other local restaurants should consider this form of dining as the weather gets colder.

“I’m not sure if it would match the vibe of every restaurant but it would be nice to be able to dine like this all year round at different locations.”

The Puddicombe House in New Hamburg is currently the only other local restaurant with a similar concept in place. They recently implemented two greenhouses that will permit outdoor dining this upcoming winter.

Although the upcoming months will likely impose challenges upon local restaurants, increased outdoor dining supports these businesses and enables people to safely dine within their social bubble, inside a bubble.

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