The Inn At Little Washington To Reopen With Mannequins In Empty Seats


What might in-person dining look like when restaurants are finally allowed to welcome their customers back in the coming weeks? One Virginia restaurant has plans to seat mannequins at the empty tables in their dining room.

The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia has already started accepting reservations for their reopening on May 29. Though, they could begin welcoming guests at half their “pre-COVID-19” capacity for outdoor seating starting Friday, May 15.

Like many Virginia restaurant owners, when the Inn at Little Washington reopens they will be limited to operating at 50% of their normal operating capacity.

Chef and proprietor Patrick O’Connell has a creative plan for that. Instead of letting the unused tables remain vacant, the seats will be taken by mannequins.

It’s a little like that scene in Home Alone where Kevin stages a holiday party with mannequins in order to fool the robbers.

O’Connell explained, “I’ve always had a thing for mannequins – they never complain about anything and you can have lots of fun dressing them up.”

O’Connell continued on, “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.” Adding that “This would allow plenty of space between real guests and elicit a few smiles and provide some fun photo ops.”

The mannequins will be decked out in vintage, 1940s style outfits.

The Inn, which features 23 guest rooms also has plans to capitalize on its 20-acre property by offering new picnic lunch and garden tours. The “Spring Grounds and Gardens Tour” will officially kick off on May 22 and will continue to run indefinitely with available time slots of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The garden tour will ensure that guests practice social distancing and is limited to 10 guests. A boxed lunch is also included with the tour.