Channing Qiam is taking part of his business outside this winter, giving patrons of the QV Cafe Bakery their own bubbles for coffee, snacks and meals.
Qiam has three igloo-style domes, framed with steel pipes and covered in heavy plastic, that can accommodate tables and chairs for groups of four and six, the maximum allowed under provincial health rules.
He said each of the domes — called Wigloos — will be sanitized after every use with disinfectant and UV lights.
“We had a great summer on the patio, but I was worried about winter time,” said Qiam, who operates the popular diner at the corner of Government and Fisgard streets downtown.
“We think this is a good solution.”
The domes have wide doors, vents along the top and flaps along the base that open to improve air circulation, he said.
Qiam initially thought about adding heaters, but said the domes “are quite warm” on their own.
He said LED lighting is being added and will give the domes a Christmas feel as darkness falls.
A larger, traditional tent was considered, said Qiam, but with frequent high winds during the winter months he opted for the domes, which he said can withstand winds up to 120 kilometres an hour.
Qiam has set up a company to sell the domes at wigloo.ca, which offers two sizes for $2,800 and $3,100.
Similar domes have been met with criticism.
A restaurant in Walkerville, Ont., had three dining domes shut down in October by city and public health officials, who cited fire safety codes and bylaws as well as contravening a COVID checklist on temporary structures surrounding proper air flow.
In the city’s Build Back Victoria reopening and recovery strategy, temporary patios and flex zones are allowed coverings over the winter months.
Among the requirements, it says tents are allowed, but must be weighted and can only be enclosed on two sides.
It isn’t immediately clear if the domes pass that test. Qiam said windows are optional in the domes.
A call for comment to the city wasn’t immediately returned.