Now this is the kind of Canberra bubble we like to hear about. A new Dining Dome has been installed at The Dock on the Kingston foreshore.
As temperatures dip, and with Covid restrictions still in place across the hospitality industry, it's the perfect time for the Dining Domes to pop up.
Not only do they provide a unique warm and cosy dining experience for up to 12 people during the cooler months, but they also give venue owners valuable space as patrons head indoors.
Under ACT government restrictions restaurants, cafes and bars are still below full capacity. If businesses want to have more than 25 people, they have to use the one person per two square metres of usable space rule.
When you can't factor in your outdoor space, there is a natural decrease in customers.
Co-owner Ben Alexander said it was always a battle to keep customer numbers up in winter and Covid restrictions have made it even harder.
"We're still at 50 per cent capacity and to effectively lose the space outside during the colder months, we thought the dome would be a great way to counter that in some ways. We're grateful to be trading at all after the year everyone has had and getting the dome gives us 24 more square metres, and 12 more people, it all helps."
The Dock Dome Project is part of an ACT government Covid Safe tourism initiative and Alexander is confident it will attract people to the Foreshore.
"We're grateful for the government's help in getting this project started and for people who are still nervous to socialise during the pandemic they can come out and feel safe in their own group."
He said even though the dome won't start serving dinner until early next week, people were already enquiring about the space. There'll be a special three-course set menu, specifically for dome diners, reservations can be made on 62396333.
"It was great trying it out the other night, the sun was going down, it's warm and quiet, though it was a bit strange to have people stopping to take photos of us inside."
Across Canberra, venue owners are looking for inventive ways to not only keep people warm but keep available space viable during winter.
Frank Condi, who has Ainslie's Edgar's Inn and Public in his stable, says it's crucial to look for ways to keep using those outdoor spaces
"At Edgar's we've basically got that outside space that can be fully enclosed with heaters and sides which close, it's almost a second room," Condi said.
"At Public we've got sides that pull down, with portable heaters. Those outdoor areas are crucial and you need to create an oven-like space if you like, to make it an attractive place to be."
The domes are a new business for Canberra couple Tim and Elaine Purser, who first saw them when they were travelling in Europe a few years ago.
"They are popular in ski resorts across countries such as Switzerland," says Tim. "And with Covid, they've been popping up all over the world, in cities such as New York and London.
"We just thought they'd be a good fit in Canberra, it can get cold here, just a new dining experience and Covid safe at the same time."
Elaine is an interior designer and in "dome one" at The Dock, she's gone for Scandinavian-inspired interiors with luxe furniture covered in sheepskin blankets, lanterns and trailing vines.
The couple were open to taking their dining domes to other venues across Canberra. Tim said he was already imagining a field with several domes dotted around it, a pop-up transparent private restaurant if you like.
"The domes are very versatile, we're even thinking about setting up glamping opportunities," Tim said.
"A woman even stopped when we were at The Dock the other day and said they'd be perfect for the internal courtyard of her apartment complex so people could socialise but noise levels could be regulated."
- For more information about the Dining Domes head to diningdome.com.au
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