VIDEO: Plastic Domes Keep Out Homeless, Coronavirus For High-End Diners In San Francisco

Igloo-like plastic dining bubbles line San Francisco's Mint Plaza outside sushi eatery Hashiri.
Photo credit Megan Goldsby/KCBS Radio
By KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM

A mid-market San Francisco restaurant is getting a lot of attention - and reservations - because of their solution to outdoor dining during the coronavirus pandemic.

But these plastic domes keep out more than just the virus. They're meant to shield diners from the homeless that sleep on San Francisco streets, too. The domes sit outside Hashiri, a fancy sushi restaurant in Mint Plaza. 

Joshua and I watched some diners being led into igloo-like plastic dining bubbles.

He was getting on his bike after a day at work.

"I think it’s a clever way to deal with what’s going on and nobody can fault anybody for trying to keep their business afloat," he laughed.

These have been desperate times, according to Hashiri General Manager Kenichiro Matsuura.

"We’ve seen some of the greenhouse operations happening in Europe,” Matsuura said. "It was a great idea. We wanted to do something interesting and fun."

The restaurant ordered three of the $1,400 greenhouse-style globes. They’re hoping to expand already.

They first tried to reopen after San Francisco’s shelter-in-place orders were eased with air tables in the plaza, but it quite didn’t work the way they were hoping it would as people walked by, one person blaring a boombox. 

The city's restrictions on businesses combined with a growing homelessness problem in the plaza don't exactly make for the kind of environment many diners are looking for. 

Enter the plastic domes.

"We realized the issues we encountered, we already knew," Matsuura explained. "But that was the major kind of turning point is that we had to seclude our guests from the ongoing activities here."

Each dome is big enough for a table of four.