San Francisco restaurant uses 'igloos' for safe, socially distanced dining

After each seating, the domes are aired out and wiped clean with disinfectant.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A San Francisco restaurant has come up with a new idea to keep diners socially distanced while they eat their sushi.

Hashiri, which is located in Mint Plaza, installed geodesic domes this week, just outside their doors.

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The new dining domes are the talk of San Francisco's Mid-Market neighborhood.

"I think this is incredible, it's very innovative," said Nathaniel Eisenberg, who is visiting San Francisco from Los Angeles with his family.

"This is the first time we saw that!"

"I thought it was really cool. I took a lot of photos and sent it back to some friends on the East Coast and we may consider going there this weekend," said Michael Dumlao, who is visiting from Washington D.C.

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The transparent tents, which shelter guests from San Francisco's not-so-summery weather, are actually quite cozy.

"It's surprisingly intimate," said Doug Carsten, who came for Thursday's 7:30 p.m. dinner service with a friend.

"We started planning this, I want to say about a whole month," said Kenichiro Matsuura, the general manager of Hashiri, a Michelin-starred restaurant.

He was inspired to install the structures, by so-called 'quarantine greenhouses' in other cities around the world.

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"We wanted to jump onto that same concept where we could offer our five course Kaiseki and Omakase Edomae sushi dining experience, which is about an hour and a half culinary journey that we like to offer."

At the entrance to the dome, guests put their purses and personal belongings in a basket outside to keep them safe and off the pavement.

Once inside, the table is not pre-set, which is intentional to make sure everything is sanitized. And after each seating, the domes are aired out and wiped clean with disinfectant.

Still, some are still not totally sure about the safety.

"We're not going to jump right into it, just because it's trendy," said Dumlao.

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Matsuura says another impetus for the structures is the increased homelessness in the area caused by the pandemic.

"If you may be familiar with this neighborhood, it's not the safest neighborhood," he said.

But Matsuura says the domes are booked through the weekend.

"They're playful, but yet they actually serve a real purpose here. They're a perma-mask, and it's really wonderful," said Carsten.

Matsuura says the big bubbles cost about $1,400 a pop. Rooftop bars in New York and Chicago use them to shelter customers in the winter.

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