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Rhode Island restaurant using 'igloos' for socially-distanced dining

Rhode Island restaurant using 'igloos' for socially-distanced dining. (WJAR)
Rhode Island restaurant using 'igloos' for socially-distanced dining. (Photo: WJAR)

WOONSOCKET, RI (WJAR) – Outdoor dining in parking lots has been a saving grace for restaurants facing a long list of obstacles amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This month at Kay’s Restaurant, new socially-distanced domes -- or “igloos” -- were implemented as overnight temperatures begin to dip.

Owner David Lahousse told NBC 10 he believes they may be key to helping Kay’s survive through the winter.

“I bought two to see how they would fit and how they would handle things,” he said. “And the next day, I ordered eight more.”

Every morning, Lahousse says he and his staff use an electrostatic sprayer that dispenses a long-lasting chemical to disinfect the domes. In between diners, the domes are aired out and sanitized.

“Clean the tables, the chairs-- we wipe everything down” Lahousse said.

Under the state’s current coronavirus guidelines, indoor dining remains capped at 66% capacity. Outdoor dining, with physical distancing, is still encouraged.

One group of Kay’s customers who tried out the transparent tents for the first time said it was actually quite cozy.

“I think we all feel safe, right? We feel safe, yeah,” said diner Jeannine Desjarlais.

Desjarlais’ friend, Becky Hoyle, said she also plans to return when winter weather intensifies.

“100% -- I think it would be amazing in the snow,” Hoyle said.

According to Lahousse, Kay’s will keep the socially-distanced domes up through April. He said he also plans to get creative around the holidays with extra decorations, in addition to adding heat and blankets for the colder months -- all while keeping COVID-19 precautions in mind.

“I can’t guarantee people 100% that you’re not going to get it by coming in here, but I can guarantee you nobody is trying harder than I am to make sure you’re safe,” he said.