MIDWAY, Utah (ABC4) – Dining pods — call them globes, or igloos, or bubbles — are exploding in popularity, but are they actually safer than dining inside restaurants?
In Utah, one fact is clear: they are very popular.
“It’s really grown — and I mean why not? You get to have your own privacy, you’re away from everyone else — there’s music playing in there, the ambiance is awesome,” said Edgar Aguirre with Cafe Galleria in Midway.
In September, the restaurant installed a few “Alpenglobe” units that sit outside and offer a group of up to eight people a cozy dining experience. Each unit cost the restaurant about $20,000 to install.
“On the first day we opened up reservations for these, I know we booked over 1,600 reservations on the first day,” said Aguirre.
The restaurant now has eight of the globes, and Cafe Galleria isn’t alone. In Summit County, 15 restaurants have similar set ups.
“It’s not just Summit County,” said Nathan Brooks, Summit Co. Environmental Health Director.
“They’re in Salt Lake, Chicago, New York, Colorado — they’re popping up all over the place. And the intent was never to say they were safer. The intent was this would increase the capacity and still keep everyone at a social distance,” added Brooks.
“If you’re going out to eat, you’re taking a risk, if you’re going out to do anything — grocery shopping — there’s still a risk associated. And there’s still a risk with these units as well,” said Brooks.
At Cafe Galleria, they have a minimum wait time between parties of 30 minutes. They sanitize between every party. And they have a vent that can open above to increase air flow.