The regular patio din of voices and city noises at Portland’s Rising Tide brewery is punctuated every so often by sounds of 6-foot zippers going up and down.
It’s part of the no-contact, COVID-safe dining and drinking they have going on there. Patrons sit at outdoor tables inside eight, see-through plastic bubbles. The spheres are warmed via hot air pumped in through hoses at the bottom. Servers take orders through the translucent film and then leave beer and snacks on a table just outside the dome.
Then — zip — down comes the zipper and thirsty customers reach a hand through the slit to retrieve their drinks. The process is repeated when it’s time to settle the bill.
“Although we are allowed to have guests inside, we did not feel comfortable with the elevated risk it created. Therefore, we decided we needed to come up with a solution that would make serving outdoors all-winter viable. ” said Kailey Partin, Rising Tide’s director of branding and hospitality. “The initial inspiration for our bubble tents came from the classic Maine activity of ice fishing — fishing huts.”