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Osoyoos coffeehouse finds a profitable 'bubble' in battle to beat COVID-19 restrictions

Junction 3 Coffeehouse patrons (from front, right)  J.C. Perreault, Denise Rockefort, Lise Gohier and Gilles Brochu enjoy coffee and chat inside one of the coffeehouse's igloos.
Junction 3 Coffeehouse patrons (from front, right) J.C. Perreault, Denise Rockefort, Lise Gohier and Gilles Brochu enjoy coffee and chat inside one of the coffeehouse's igloos.

An Osoyoos coffeehouse was among the first to try an innovative way to stay open, keep customers in a protective bubble and so far it appears to be paying off.

Sara Van Der Hoeven and business partner Hart Pauls operate the Junction 3 coffeehouse, located on the corner of Highway 3 and Harbour Key Drive in Osoyoos.

Van Der Hoeven says they were looking for ways to allow more customers to enjoy a coffee by expanding outdoors after pandemic restrictions reduced the seating capacity of their business to three tables earlier this year.

“We were looking for a warm, quiet place where customers could have a coffee outside,” she says.

An exhaustive search for a product that could provide such a place led Van Der Hoeven to an American-based website that sold a plastic dome-like shelter manufactured in Germany.

“It was a neat idea. I did some research and found they were being used in Europe to keep people warm while outside,” she says.

The ‘igloos,’ as Van Der Hoeven calls them, are heated, and they have really taken off since Junction 3 installed them this past October.

As the weather has gotten colder, they’ve become even more popular among the coffeehouse’s customers.

“We are getting reservations from all over southern B.C. Customers are coming in just to experience the igloos. The customers like them a lot,” she says.

The coffeehouse has two of the structures already in use, with two more on order. They're made of plastic, sit about seven feet high and are approximately 12 feet in diameter. They are individually heated, and Junction 3 Coffeehouse's models are see-through.

The igloos are accessed through a zippered door and each one has a table and chairs. The plastic is thick enough to provide some sound-proofing, making the structures a warm and comfortable way to have a coffee outdoors even in December weather.

Van Der Hoeven says the igloos were "expensive," but said they have proven their worth.

“They’ve really taken the pressure off us from having only three tables inside. I would highly recommend them," she says.

The business also has uncovered picnic tables for use outside, which of course, aren’t near as popular this time of year.

Under normal circumstances, the igloos could hold up to 10 people but current pandemic edicts are restricting them to six.

“Right now, we’re doing a really cool event for the community for the kids. Santa is visiting Thursday to Sunday evenings from 5:30 to 8:45 p.m., where Santa is inside the igloo and kids can come up and talk to him at the entrance, so they are totally separated,” she says.

Junction 3 Coffeehouse
Junction 3 Coffeehouse's igloos are similar to European manufactured 'garden igloos' that sell in Europe for around $1,500 Canadian.

The arrangement allows parents to take photos of Santa with the kids in a safe, socially distanced environment. A local ‘Santa’ has stepped up to provide jolly old St. Nick’s duties.

Reservations are necessary. Families get a 20 minute meeting with Santa, and the business is closed to all other customers other than family members during the Santa visits.

Reservations can be made by emailing junction3coffeehouse@gmail.com

Junction 3 Coffeehouse igloos are providing a COVID-19 socially distanced platform for kids to visit with Santa in Osoyoos this year.
Junction 3 Coffeehouse igloos are providing a COVID-19 socially distanced platform for kids to visit with Santa in Osoyoos this year.
Image Credit: Facebook/ Junction 3 Coffeehouse

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