During these trying times of the pandemic, many states are going for a partial opening up. Restaurants are opening up too, but they are faced with a problem – how are they going to keep people separate? Social distancing in restaurants seems almost impossible. But then, restaurants are creative in their ways. Using innovation, a few have been successful in solving the puzzle.
Patrick O’Connell, who has a 3-Michelin-star famed Inn at Little Washington, is opening up his restaurant, but with a weird twist. While they will be operating at half capacity as per the laws of Virginia, the empty seats will be occupied by mannequins. Yeah, it might seem weird, but social distancing in restaurants can be a success if you can create the illusion of a booming business. The Inn at Little Washington has its fair share of theatrics. It even features a mooing cow-shaped cart that serves cheese.
Five Dock Dining, a restaurant in Sydney, is trying something similar. They are keeping it 2-D though. They have placed cardboard cutouts of life-size humans featuring their handsome patrons.
A few restaurants are expanding beyond the boundaries of the restaurant. They are spilling into the streets or the parking lots. Clarity in Vienna is using up the parking lot space for the seating of their patrons. So, the restaurant is running at half capacity. But at least they are maintaining social distancing in restaurants. People can even have a parking-space slip and pull in to catch an 80 dollar multicourse meal. Just get to the table and have a treat!
Similarly, in Boston, Kowloon restaurant is planning to offer a brand new movie experience with a drive-in movie theater. They are offering diners the treats in a car-hop style by setting up a large screen so that they can enjoy a movie while sitting in their cars.
As businesses work in half capacity, The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority has allowed alcohol to be served, if social distancing measures are maintained by restaurants.
Twisted Citrus, a cafe in Canton, Ohio, is going for the six feet apart rule by separating the tables by physical barriers – clear shower towels. In Amsterdam, ETEN restaurant has gone for a similar but much more aesthetic social distancing adaptation. The restaurant has separate greenhouses for the guests, and waiters serve the dishes using wooden planks to keep their distance from the diners.
A few restaurants have, of course, taken a not-so-economically-sound route but have made the restaurant experience special during this period. Board for En in Sweden has gone for a Table for One concept where only a solo diner is allowed. The food is distributed from a distance using a rope and pulley system.
As per Jon Taffer, a hospitality consultant, restaurants will try innovative ways to adapt. He also said that the word ‘sterile’ was a bane for restaurants, as it did not go hand in hand with the word ‘fun.’ But now, restaurants would try to go for a combination of the two.
Maybe social distancing in restaurants will become our new normal!