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Fake It ‘Till You Make It

As restaurants slowly reopen, owners are attempting to balance safety guidelines with hospitality, in a half-empty dining room. There are plans for masked servers, disposable menus, and transparent partitions made from shower curtains. But several enterprises have found an ingenious way to fill every seat while still meeting social-distancing requirements. The Inn at Little Washington, the D.C. area’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars, is placing 1940s-costumed mannequins at tables throughout the dining room. Chef Patrick O’Connell, a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award Winner said, “We’re all craving to gather and see other people. They don’t all necessarily need to be real people.” And in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, neighborhood bistros and boutiques have teamed up to showcase and promote the talents of local brands and fashion designers, by dressing mannequins to sit at the outdoor tables that would otherwise remain empty (think: tank tops at the ten-top). Disturbing or inspired?

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