It’d be a grand country if you put a roof on it.
As Irish cafés, pubs and restaurants struggle to stay afloat while keeping customers safe and happy, there’s another element to grapple with; the weather.
Now one new company has come up with a rather clever way to seat diners outdoors without worrying about the weather.
Designed by Kinsale architect Marc O’Riain, a lecturer at Cork Institute of Technology’s Department of Architecture, StreetPods are currently being considered by County Councils all over Ireland as a practical solution to help keep food businesses feasible in the wake of a pandemic.
With many experts suggesting the virus could be circulating for as long as three years, it’s clear some creative thinking is necessary.
The idea was sparked during a conversation Dr O’Riain had with Barbara Nealon, owner of Kinsale’s St Francis Provisions restaurant. Like many business owners, Barbara was wondering how she was going to safely fit customers into her premises after her business reopened.
Marc volunteered to come up with some sketches featuring a seating pod on wheels that could be moved into a car parking space during service and easily removed again afterwards. The pods, an intimate enclosed space that could be shared by a family or a small group of friends, could also be shared by two businesses, a café during the day and a restaurant by night.
Marc shared his sketches on social media and the response was immediate;
“Everybody just reacted so positively to it,” says Marc. “Then a number of my mates said hey; come on now, you’re going to have to develop this into a product.
In Pod we trust
Now Brian O’Regan and his dad Bernard have developed Dr Marc Ó Riain’s concept, with an all-weather covering warrantied for 20-50 years (“in rain snow and ice!”) on each €5,000 StreetPod.
“The super study steel-framed structure now has opening lockable concertina doors, and the unit can be levelled to the pavement to provide accessible level entry whilst accommodating a family or intimate group of six closed or seven open,” they explain.
With 10 orders already, the team are awaiting the decisions of various Councils for approval so they can roll out their cottage industry.
The company is also working on a Homepod, a similar pod designed for working, practising yoga or hiding from your kids. They aim to have the Homepod delivered and assembled at under €10k.
Want to know more? Follow the StreetPod story at Streetpod.ie.