Coronavirus Crisis Forces Restaurants to Get Creative
Dining at a table where clear plastic surrounds each diner might look and sound futuristic, but it could be one way for some restaurants to reopen.
These plastic shields are known as the "Plex'eat." They look like big, clear lampshades and hang down from the top of the room. They are being used at H.A.N.D., a restaurant in Paris, France. Its owners are seeking a way to reopen the restaurant's dining room as coronavirus restrictions are eased.
As restaurateurs around the world seek to restart in-person dining, they understand the importance of rules for social distancing. Yet they also are trying to serve as many diners as health and safety measures will permit.
Some eateries are putting mannequins at every other table to put some space between real people. One example is Augustas and Barbora, a restaurant in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Some of the mannequins are wearing casual clothing, while other models look as if they are attending an official event.
"We want to fill the space with fun things," said Patrikas Ribas, the owner.
Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius called the effort a "perfect match of communal spirit and creativity working side by side."
In Hofheim, Germany, one eatery – BEEF'N BEER - is using large teddy bears seated at some tables to keep diners spaced apart. Its owners say they are trying to offer an easy-going, less-hospital-like atmosphere.
In The Netherlands, Amsterdam's Mediamatic restaurant is offering something else to diners. Its owners have set up small glass houses that surround each table, served by waiters in protective shields.
Many restaurants have offered take-out and delivery service during the coronavirus crisis to keep earning at least some money. In France, restaurants are less likely to offer such service. Yet Alain Ducasse, a Michelin rated star chef, has started offering take-out.
Owners are seeking solutions that will influence diners to return while also easing their concerns about catching the virus.
The Associated Press spoke with Mathieu Manzoni, the director of H.A.N.D. He said he thinks the plastic shields are a "pretty, more poetic" solution for restaurateurs who fear that social distancing could cut the number of diners by half or more.
Makers of the Plex'eat say they have received more than 200 preorders around the world, including from Japan and the United States.
Designer Christophe Gernigon says he got the idea after visiting a store in Bangkok. He said it had "three individual domes with chairs where people could sit and listen to music."
He combined the idea with the large face shields that some medical workers have used since the health crisis began, although there is nothing to keep any viruses from spreading.
I'm Mario Ritter Jr.