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A three-Michelin-star restaurant in the American state of Virginia started using mannequins as guests when it reopened last May.
The Inn at Little Washington placed mannequins in different areas around the restaurant to make its dining area look busy. Some of the inanimate guests are seated right next to real customers, while others are posed on couches, appearing to be in conversation.
The luxury restaurant partnered with a local theater company to dress the mannequins and make them more lifelike. The mannequins wear wigs, hats, and clothes inspired by 1940s fashion to suit the theme of the restaurant.
When Virginia lifted some of its lockdown restrictions, restaurants were permitted to operate at 50% capacity. Patrick O’Connell, chef and owner of The Inn at Little Washington, said that the restaurant used mannequins to fill the empty spots in an amusing and attractive way. He hopes that these well-dressed dolls can put customers at ease and make them feel less separated from other people in the restaurant.
O’Connell also said that his restaurant is taking the threat of the pandemic seriously and doing its part to keep the coronavirus cases and deaths in Virginia low. He added that restaurant staff are following proper sanitation protocols, such as wearing masks. To add more flair, masks worn by restaurant staff will be designed with Marilyn Monroe’s smile or George Washington’s chin.
An image of the mannequins seated at the restaurant received mixed reactions on Instagram. Some people said that the new set-up is creative and made them excited to go back to the restaurant. However, others found it creepy and compared the scene to horror movies.