Cafe du Soleil’s Space-Age Seating Is a Hit: ‘People Want Their Bubbles’

Photo by Aileen Budow.

By Carol Tannenhauser

Big, plastic bubbles, with tables and chairs and happy diners inside them, line the sidewalk in front of Café du Soleil, on Broadway and 104th Street, like life-sized ornaments.

“The customers love them,” owner Nadine Chevreux told WSR. “They feel cozy. If it rains or it’s cold, there’s no problem. They’re not specifically for COVID, they’re just regular bubbles. My husband got them on a website. There are openings on both sides, so they’re not enclosed. This is gonna hold us until it’s really cold.”

The bubbles have been up for about a month and “so far, business has been good,” Chevreux said. “But we are at the mercy of what the City of New York decides for all the restaurants. In November it’s gonna get cold and we will try to last as long as we can.  So far, we have a little solution that’s working out very well.

“People want their bubbles,” she exclaimed. “They actually ask for them, even if it’s not raining. Would you believe that? They say, ‘Can we have a bubble, please?’”

FOOD, NEWS | 49 comments | permalink
    1. Ida says:

      How are the bubbles cleaned and sanitized between diners?

      • NYYgirl says:

        Exactly what my little one wondered…and after 6 months of trying to be educated about this virus and how to clean everything properly, I had no idea how to answer!

    2. Jerome36 says:

      I am glad the restaurant is doing well and I hate to be a killjoy. But that restaurant is Really taking advantage of things. They have left about 2 feet for people to walk along the sidewalk. Look at the pic! The bubbles are too big. I have to walk in the street when they are crowded.

    3. John says:

      Problem is there is no where to walk . The sidewalks are for walking

      • Ken says:

        And the sidewalks belong to the City, i.e. The People.

      • Minx says:

        John, there is plenty of room to walk on the sidewalks and I think the restaurants and cafes have done a great job of keeping portions of the sidewalk free for walkers. But, then again, this is the WSR so it makes sense that you have found the negative here…

        • TrueTrue says:

          I LOL’ed, your last sentence is so true.

        • dc says:

          Agree, Minx! Kudos to restaurant owners for being creative in keeping their businesses going. To the haters, stop being so negative.

        • Yes I'm annoyed says:

          The sidewalks in general are passable with outdoor dining, but this block is over the top. Have you walked there? I have. I support reasonable stretching of the rules to help local businesses, but I shouldn’t have to walk in the street to be away from unmasked throngs or to get to other businesses on the block.

      • Steve Downey says:

        I agree with John. I’m not being negative, I would just like to walk by safely. I like this restaurant, eat here often. Can they leave about 6 feet of space for people to walk by safely? Please?

        • Ish Kabibble says:

          Cross the street and stop whining!!!

          • SenioRita says:

            Are you UWS Hebrew’s Doppelganger?
            You both seem to think it’s appropriate to order people to cross the street whenever there’s an obstruction on the sidewalk. Not so simple when you’re an elderly person with a walker or a cane (ask me how I know); a wheelchair user; a parent with a double stroller; a dog walker; a delivery person with a handcart; an EMT team answering an emergency. Or simply a person who wants to maintain social distancing.
            One row of bubbles is cute, charming and innovative, and I applaud Le Soleil for their creativity. Two rows is dangerous and unneighborly. Soon they’ll be able to welcome diners inside their restaurant. Meanwhile they need to remove the curbside bubbles.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              You and all the other people who are admittedly, correct in complaining about this will just have to bear with it. Businesses must be given the chance to stay open. My mother uses a walker and lives in Manhattan, so I can empathize, but you’ll have to sacrifice your freedom in this manner. I have no personal interest in this or any other food establishment, but it’s the least we can do to ensure that some part of the NYC economy keeps going. Restaurants employ people. You don’t.

    4. ali says:

      That looks like a lot of fun. Given the choice between two feet of sidewalk or a vacant storefront, I will take the two feet. Besides, have you ever been to cities in Europe? In Rome, that would be several streets.

    5. Oona says:

      Be careful what you complain about. How will you like walking in your neighborhood once all these restaurants have permanently closed and there are boarded up empty storefronts everywhere. Plenty of room to walk then…O but safety, forgetaboutit! The whole UWS lived through that 40 years ago and boy, the rents were cheap as was the quality of life.

    6. Brenda says:

      I hate to be all doom and gloom, but how is sitting in a bubble that’s been used by others any safer than sitting in an enclosed restaurant?

    7. Marci says:

      I don’t want to see anymore restaurants close. If providing them most of the sidewalks for now, I can deal with that. One day, we’ll get our sidewalks back, so this is a short-term problem. We’re all in this together; from masking, to social distancing, to walking narrow sidewalks. NYC has done an amazing job so far, so let’s keep doing it.

    8. ST says:

      For years have commented how Cotta on Columbus extended its outdoor tables so that it was difficult to walk on crowded weekends. When I saw the results of the Covid rules permitting expanded sidewalk space, I thought, “And Cotta’s takeover is complete.” Ha ha.

    9. ZoomZ says:

      Health wise – how do you clean it between different diners – I say this bubble too
      will burst.

    10. Pearl Clutcher says:

      A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.

    11. Jerome36 says:

      I live right by the restaurant . There is a WPIX news truck here. They are doing a remote story for the evening newscast. I gotta find out the company who makes them and buy the stock!

      • Hope says:

        https://www.alvantor.com/
        This is the company. I bought many for my restaurant too but my town when proposed said it was considered
        indoor dining. I even have a uv hepa filter in each and bought a fogger to sanitize everything in between seatings. I thought I was being proactive too. I have since closed my restaurant bc my indoor capacity is o
        Only 15 people. Murphy flat out sucks.

        Definition of outdoor in our area no more than 50% of sides can have walls. Full capacity .

        Definition of indoor dining in our area 25% capacity windows should open and air on. Ok what if you don’t have air or windows that open ? Are u allowed to open ?

        • Nicole says:

          I had dinner last night in the bubble! it was very convenient and at the same time ‘cute”
          I am an older lady with a cane, and I had NO problem walking in the street, there is plenty of space for 2 people to walk even together.
          For the people who complain, either you are jealous not to have them in your neiboro, or you are simply a negative person,Sorry for you

      • Jeff Berger says:

        My parent’s owned a pharmacy from 1968 – 2000 in Rockland County. One of his customer made the first satellite trucks for WABC-TVs “Eyewitness News”. He then went on to make the trucks for WCBS, WNBC and I think WPIX. WABC was the first to use them and they became the big thing and very profitable for our customer. I am sorry I can’t remember his name.

    12. EC says:

      The handkerchief-wringers concerned about the lack of sidewalk space on this thread crack me up. Try walking the streets in cities like Beijing where it’s not uncommon for restaurants to encroach on sidewalks packed with people and far more narrow with kettles filled with frying oil set atop burners with open flames. I’ve squeezed by those many times and have yet to get burned, I’m sure folks can figure out how to walk down this street too!

      • Sarah says:

        People with mobility impairments can’t. That’s the real problem. If you don’t have wheelchair clearance, there’s an issue. I don’t think that applies in too many cases but it definitely can and it shouldn’t be overlooked.

      • Boris says:

        I shake my head when people shoehorn in comments about their travel experiences to explain why we should be willing to tolerate certain situations when compared to conditions that exist elsewhere. Maybe people in Beijing would prefer our quality of life. It’s easy to ‘enjoy’ how others live while you’re there only for vacation.

      • Jo says:

        It occurs to me that in Beijing, as referenced, people can find something to eat, or get a cup of tea, that they can afford, whereas here, something like the bubbled-eatery represents more of an obstruction than just the physical presence of them. I can put up with a lot if I know I can participate.

    13. Bonnie says:

      People are asking for the bubbles because they Krrp them away from the other diners.

    14. JS says:

      I think the restaurant owners had a great idea (very unique)and it seems very popular. It looks like fun!

    15. Jen says:

      Oh comments… I agree with many of the commenters – I would MUCH rather have restaurants find a way to stay open and walk on the other side of the street but good point for those in wheelchairs…. As for cleaning – that is interesting and appreciate hearing what Hope tried to do with hers. I will need to speak to owner to see what they are doing because although not completely enclosed the particles could likely stay inside the bubble for a bit. However, I have now eaten there 3 times in the past few weeks (never in a bubble but they are fun to look at!). All three times were excellent. The service is amazing and everyone is super friendly. Food is tasty and their Aperol Spriltz is amazing. Will need to find a new drink as it is getting colder.

    16. MK says:

      this seems no different than eating inside. actually, it’s probably worse. i passed by, and there’s one door to the bubble. I don’t see how fresh air can be circulated inside the bubble. You’re breathing air from your table, and the air of previous diners may also be lingering. I don’t see how this is a safe way to dine.

    17. Robin Rice says:

      Every day after a stroll in Riverside Park I cross over to Broadway and walk south on the west side of Broadway from 113th to home in the 90s. I am masked so what’s the problem? I go that way because it’s great to see people out and restaurants busy. I wear a mask of course, but if it bothered me I’d cross the street. My gosh there are a lot of complainers here!

    18. Marci says:

      Who knew when Rock Center had these on the plaza last holiday season that they’d become more than a seasonal novelty.

    19. PQDubya says:

      Brilliant!

    20. v says:

      These businesses are fighting for their life and
      there are so many comments from selfish, lazy whiners. Walk across the street fool! A better option for you may be to move out of NYC.

    21. Molly says:

      Those bubbles are confined, unventilated spaces. The poor wait staff has to go from one pod of unmasked people to the next. And are they cleaned after each seating? An unsymptomatic person can leave virus in the air for the next 5 seatings. What are they thinking?!?

    22. Jo says:

      If the primary purpose to to protect diners from rain, wouldn’t the city allow a long awning? – not the word – instead of all this?