Photo Courtesy Harry Caray's Restaurant Group
According to an April report from the Burea of Labor Statistics, the restaurant industry is projected to lose $240 billion in sales this year. As coronavirus restrictions begin to ease, restaurants are reopening for dine-in services in hopes of making profits and giving patrons what they miss most: normalcy.
Owners are faced with the difficult task of finding creative ways to encourage social distancing while also creating a welcoming environment for faithful customers. Tape and plexiglass might work, but what will give diners the restaurant experience they once knew in a post-pandemic world?
From blow-up dolls to celebrity cut-outs, here are a few ways restaurants are encouraging social distancing during coronavirus.
There might not be actual dinosaurs at the Bar-B-Q Plaza restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, but animal lovers will still be treated to a delightful surprise when dining at the establishment. Green, cardboard dinosaurs were placed around the restaurant to keep diners safely separated. One guest even dined with the friendly figure.
Fish Tales, a restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland, partnered with Baltimore’s Revolution Event Design and Production to create the perfect way to keep customers properly distanced: bumper bar tables. Diners stand in the center of a large, black tube on wheels and enjoy their meals while standing. The size of the bumper bar table allows guests to enjoy their meals outside without the chance of getting too close to anyone, and thanks to the wheels, guests can freely move about. The bumper tables at Fish Tales are like a ride at the best theme park you’ve never heard of.
Honey Salt — a farm-to-table restaurant in Summerlin, Las Vegas — upped its cute factor while encouraging guests to dine safely. Nevada has started to ease coronavirus social distancing by allowing dine-in services, but all bar areas are, under government ordinance, required to remain closed. To make the restaurant feel lively, Honey Salt placed teddy bears at the usually bustling bar to remind guests that the area is off-limits.
After speaking with a neighbor about the best way to encourage social distancing without having to use “foreboding yellow tape.” Paula Starr Melehes, the co-owner of The Open Hearth in Greenville, South Carolina, came up with the perfect idea: blow-up dolls.
Purchased from Amazon, the ten dolls — five male and five female — were dressed in summer clothing and placed around the restaurant to keep patrons distanced.
According to Melehes, the dolls have given customers a much-needed laugh and lightened the mood in a dark time. Guests have even offered to order the dolls a signature cocktail.
The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia, placed mannequins dressed in 1940s fashion that defined the decade to keep diners apart. The mannequins are theatrically staged around the restaurant — some are reading menus while others are waiting for their drinks to be poured — to encourage smart social distancing while also adding a touch of glamour.
At Mediamatic Biotoop in Amsterdam, Netherlands, new social distancing procedures have turned a night dining at the restaurant into a romantic adventure. Diners can sit and enjoy their meals in Serres Séparées — small greenhouses that are enclosed for both safety and intimacy.
Sheila Hill, owner of Powell’s Steamer Co & Pub in Placerville, California, thought of a clever way to allow diners to enjoy their favorite meals while maintaining their safety: plastic dividers. Hill repurposed shower curtains and hung the plastic material throughout her establishment. The curtains are held up by a bar and can be pulled to accommodate one or two guests dining together.
Twisted Citrus — a restaurant in North Canton, Ohio, that specializes in adding a creative spin to popular dishes — has enforced a new twist to guarantee patrons practice social distancing. Clear, plastic shower curtains, a common household item, have been arranged around the restaurant to separate diners.
At Maison Saigon, a restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, stuffed toy pandas have taken the place of patrons to enforce social distancing. A trip to the zoo might not be part of diners’ summer travel plans after coronavirus, but with adorable pandas just a few feet away, they might feel like they’re there.
To contain the spread of coronavirus, the Penguin Eat Shabu in Bangkok, Thailand, placed plastic to divide patrons from one another. Unlike other establishments where plastic coverings extend from ceiling to floor, the plastic partitions are placed individually atop each table.
It might not be Barbie dolls being used, but Café LIVRES in Essen, Germany, is attempting to make life fantastic — and safe – for diners. The cafe has positioned dolls taken from a theatre at tables to enforce social distancing rules. The dolls have been dressed in clothing resembling that worn by patrons and placed to mimic human actions. One doll was given a newspaper to resemble reading the daily news.
Harry Caray was a legendary sports broadcaster famous for covering pro athlete baseball games. To honor his love of being with people, Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group has placed cut-outs of the baseball giant in their restaurant in Chicago, Illinois. Not only do the cut-outs create a fun ambiance, but baseball fans can also snag a photo with the Caray cut-out while practicing social distancing. Enjoying the atmosphere of a restaurant is one of the things diners miss the most during quarantine.
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