Restaurant uses well-dressed mannequins as social distancing measure

15 May 2020, 08:42 | Updated: 15 May 2020, 12:54

The well-dressed mannequins will help keep customers apart
The well-dressed mannequins will help keep customers apart. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

An American restaurant has found a unique way of enforcing social distancing rules by installing well-dressed mannequins at tables to ensure customers stay apart.

The Inn at Little Washington has seated mannequins dressed in 1940's-style attire at tables to help keep diners distant and bring out some much-needed smiles from patrons.

The business, which is near Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, west of Washington, DC, has three Michelin-stars but will be waiting until May 29 to resume dining service indoors.

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Mannequins dressed in fine 1940's-style attire were already theatrically staged in the venue
Mannequins dressed in fine 1940's-style attire were already theatrically staged in the venue. Picture: PA

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Although business restrictions are set to begin easing in some parts of Virginia on Friday, restaurants can only serve dine-in customers in an outdoor space.

"When we needed to solve the problem of social distancing and reducing our restaurant's occupancy by half, the solution seemed obvious - fill it with interestingly dressed dummies," chef and proprietor Patrick O'Connell said in a statement.

"This would allow plenty of space between real guests and elicit a few smiles and provide some fun photo ops."

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The three-Michelin-star restaurant has opted to wait until May 29 to resume dining service indoors.
The three-Michelin-star restaurant has opted to wait until May 29 to resume dining service indoors. Picture: PA

Mr O'Connell, a self-taught cook, has won America's James Beard Award several times, and was the 2019 recipient of the James Beard Foundation's lifetime achievement award. He was also awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2019.

Mannequins provide social distancing at the Inn at Little Washington
Mannequins provide social distancing at the Inn at Little Washington. Picture: PA

"We're all craving to gather and see other people right now," O'Connell said. "They don't all necessarily need to be real people."

Meanwhile, a German cafe is making customers wear swimming pool noodles on their heads to enforce social distancing.

The Cafe & Konditorei Rothe in Schwerin, Germany, have made straw hats with two swimming pool floats taped to them which are given to customers to wear when they take their seats.

Staff introduced the inventive measure to enforce social distancing rules.


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