Sure there are times you wish you could eat al fresco or retire to the patio, but this would unfortunately involve being outside in the unwashed airs for long stretches of time. Until now.
Eater reported on Tuesday that the latest improvement upon being fully outdoors (could it be the single greatest advancement in the field since clothing?) is plastic domes. Sometimes these are referred to as “patio igloos,” and demand is sharply on the rise. Eater reports their presence at a restaurant called Lumen in downtown Detroit, at Publica in Atlanta, at the bar at the Watergate Hotel, and a rooftop cafe in Milwaukee.
This is a fairly recent phenomenon. Eater notes that one of the largest makers of these plastic coverings, Gardenigloo, was founded in 2013, and sold mainly to the European market before opening an American branch in 2016. The bare minimum Gardenigloo product, a partially enclosed PVC dome, will set you back about $849. That’s without heaters or interior decoration.
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Publica’s owner Mike Duganier told Eater, “I’m getting 50 emails a day from people trying to reserve igloos.” Knowing that customers who severely don’t want to go outside believe the restaurant holds all the cards, Duganier imposed a $30 per person minimum for those who wish to dine in the transparent yurts.
Gardenigloo’s USA owner Volkan Alevok says the company originally marketed domes as all-season residential pop-up greenhouses and patio bubbles, but it wasn’t long before restaurants and bars began ordering them up to extend the use of their outdoor space. Also, people like to Instagram their experiences inside these weather-resistant coverings (a.k.a. umbrellas for giants a.k.a. tents). At this point, the company began rolling out stronger plastic and more durable zippers.
But are plastic igloos just a fad? Surely when winter is over people will want to be outside while they’re outside again. According to restauranteurs Anne Stevenson and Curt Catallo, maybe not:
“The geodesic domes might seem like an early winter trend, doomed to peter out by early spring. But that hasn’t been the case so far at Fenton Fire Hall and Honcho. ‘We haven’t noticed there being any ebbs and flows,’ Stevenson says. Catallo notes that a couple recently got married in one of Honcho’s domes, and they’re fielded requests to reserve an igloo space for a proposal in March. ‘I don’t think that that’s going to happen under a patio heater,’ he says. ‘People are looking for something memorable.’”
So, this is what all our plastic straws are going toward building. Good to know.