Renowned US restaurant adds mannequins to help with social distancing


A renowned American restaurant has installed a number of finely-dressed mannequins at its tables to help it deal with social distancing for its reopening later this month.

Mannequins dressed in fine 1940’s-style attire were already theatrically staged on Thursday at The Inn at Little Washington, tucked in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, west of Washington, DC.

Not only will the dummies help keep patrons apart, they will also help make the restaurant appear more full, in a whimsical fashion.

Virus Outbreak Virginia Reopening
While patrons might find some mannequins slightly disturbing, the restaurant’s owner says they will provide ‘a bit of fun’ (Steve Helber/AP)

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

“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.

Virus Outbreak Virginia Reopening
The mannequins are designed to help patrons observe social distancing (Steve Helber/AP)

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.

“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.”


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