As the quarantine eases, more and more establishments are back in business. People are longing for missed experiences, including dining out. Abroad, restaurants are open, but physical distancing is still strictly enforced for everyone’s safety. And it looks like some shops are raising the bar on seating people together apart. Here, we have compiled the quirkiest, the most amusing, and the most creative tricks restaurants from all over the world invented in the name of social distancing.


Mediamatic ETEN, a restaurant/bar in the Netherlands, is testing out personal quarantine greenhouses or Serres Séparées. “At restaurants and bars, a separate room is traditionally named in French [as] chambre séparée. It suggests a sexy kind of intimacy. Here, things can happen that should remain hidden from plain sight and not be heard by all. We’ve decided to name our greenhouses in French, too. Although what happens inside will be a lot more public,” it says on the official website.


Photo from Mediamatic ETEN

The greenhouses offer a fantastic view of the lake, and at night, the venues are lit by pretty, twinkling lights. The food is served via longboards by waiters wearing face masks and gloves. The staff went through special training to get used to the new system.


To celebrate its reopening, each diner at Café & Konditorei Rothe in Schwerin, Germany was given a special treat: a straw hat with colorful pool noodles attached to it. On the establishment’s official Facebook page, a picture was posted of patrons donning the fun accessory to promote social distancing.


Photo from Café & Konditorei Rothe

Owner Jacqueline Rothe commented on the now-viral post to German TV channel RTL, “This was the perfect method to keep customers apart—and a fun one.”

Also in Germany, Burger King debuted huge social-distance crowns to keep diners six feet away from each other. The brand has rolled out other coronavirus-centric campaigns in other countries. In Italy, for example, the fast-food chain introduced the “Social Distancing Whopper” with three times the amount of onions found on regular burgers, used to induce strong oniony breath, which nobody wants to smell up close.


Now if a restaurant that’s half full is a depressing sight for you, would you consider dining in a place full of well-dressed mannequins? A restaurant in Virginia is doing just that. Three Michelin-starred The Inn at Little Washington decided to accommodate these unlikely guests that are supposed to set a warm and inviting ambiance for the real guests who seek connection after being hunkered down in isolation.


Photo from The Inn at Little Washington

“This would allow plenty of space between real guests and elicit a few smiles and provide some fun photo ops,” says Patrick O’Connell, chef and proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington, to AFP. “We’re all craving to gather and see other people right now. They don’t all necessarily need to be real people.”

The Open Hearth in South Carolina in the US has taken a similar approach, dressing up inflatable dolls. The restaurant posted photos on Facebook and the guests, both full-blooded and plastic, seemed happy to be out and about again.


Photo from The Open Hearth

Izu Shaboten Zoo in Shizuoka, Japan has employed plush toys, capybaras, to be specific, to populate the forest animals-themed restaurant. Capybaras, the largest living rodents in the world, are the most popular animals on the grounds. People gather to watch them bathing in water. Also joining the “staff” are red pandas and giraffes.


Photo from Izu Shaboten Zoo

Maison Saigon in Bangkok, Thailand, on the other hand, has taken the cuddly route. The Vietnamese eatery has seated stuffed pandas. “Maison Saigon is now open for eating!!” the shop posted on Instagram. “Come alone, as a couple, or as a whole family. We have pandas and clear panels to help keep the distance, [so you can] be happy, healthy, and [safely] enjoy authentic Vietnamese tastes without worries. With strict cleanliness measures in accordance with state standards we’re offering a special during May, a 20 percent discount for food.”


Photo from Maison Saigon

Last, but not least, the staff of farm-to-table eatery Honey Salt in Las Vegas donated teddy bears and other furry friends to fill seats so customers can feel cozy.


Photo from Honey Salt


The New South Wales state government of Australia has allowed a maximum of 10 guests at cafés, restaurants, and hotel dining areas. A restaurant called Five Dock Dining didn’t want the space to feel so empty, so the staff has been seating cardboard cutouts at tables in an attempt to make diners feel more comfortable. Not only that, but guest chatter is also played through speakers as though shifts were busy all the time. People liked the idea, so it was easily a “full house” come opening night.


Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images


In New Zealand, establishment owners have displayed Kiwi ingenuity when going contactless, delivering orders using poles, cat flaps, pulleys, and more. In Palmerston North, coffee-lovers can now receive their drinks via a toy train. Cyclista Espresso Bar and Roastery owner Steve Stannard said he came up with the idea after finding his father’s old toy train in a cupboard, shelved for more than 20 years. In Wanaka, customers receive their cappuccinos via a wooden trolley made out of bits of scavenged wood. Little Black Caravan owner Alex Finney joked in an interview that it was “a bit messy throwing the coffees” and said that the trolley was a logical solution to maintaining distance.


Photo from Cyclista Espresso Bar and Roastery


Fish Tales Bar & Grill is a popular spot in Ocean City, Maryland. To enforce social distancing, the joint invested in individual bumper-style tables. How it works is a guest stands in the middle and can move around since the table has four wheels. If anyone gets too close to another person, they will softly bump each other. This means they have hit the six-foot social distancing limit.


Photo from Fish Tales Bar & Grill 

The tables, which can be rented for $150 each or can be purchased starting at $400, are by Event Revolution, an events company that has pivoted to creating coronavirus-related products to help people live new normally.


Seriously. Sweden did not go on lockdown, but it does promote social distancing. It’s business as usual, even for new business. Bord för En or Table for One just opened on May 10, and it has taken social distance to new heights by serving only one guest per day. The setup for the three-course gourmet meal will be in the middle of a field in Värmland, Sweden. Private, solo dining at its finest, there is no waitstaff, and food is served via a basket attached to a rope that works through a pulley system. This is the idea of Rasmus Persson and Linda Karlsson. The dishes are prepared by Persson, and the drinks are by Joel Söderbäck, known for his many high-end bars. After the experience, the restaurant cleans the dishes twice and sanitizes the table.


Photo from Bord för En

Source: Manila Bulletin (