Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Chef complies with pandemic guidelines by turning restaurant into mannequin-filled nightmare
Photo: Harald Sund (Getty Images)

Over the last two months, we’ve covered a number of ways the pandemic has forced people to get a bit more innovative. There have been late night host turning their bathtubs into makeshift stages and sports announcers using their skills to narrate daily life, aquariums offering virtual jellyfish meditation sessions and enterprising people ditching work calls by messing with video conferencing backgrounds. Now, in an effort to create the impression of a bustling restaurant while still complying with social distancing guidelines, a chef has come up with the idea of packing his business with frozen-eyed mannequin diners.


The story of the Inn At Little Washington’s doll diners comes from the Washingtonian. It describes how the Virginia restaurant was set to reopen as usual this week until word came that state guidelines required chef Patrick O’Connell to run at only “50 percent capacity.” To accommodate these rules, O’Connell pushed the Inn’s reopening back to May 29th and has decided that he’ll overcome the capacity issue by filling in the dining area with a bunch of “faux humans costumed in 1940s-era garb” created in partnership with a local theater company.

O’Connell “has created custom-made masks bearing Marilyn Monroe smiles and George Washington chins,” which is already one thing for prospective guests to deal with. An additional challenge is presented by the fact that “servers will be instructed to pour [the mannequins] wine and to ask them about their evening,” as well.


The article quotes O’Connell, who says he believes “it would do people a world of good to reduce their anxiety level when they come out to a place which is still unaffected” by the pandemic, like his restaurant, which is located in an area that “currently has no COVID-19 cases.” It seems unlikely to us that the diners’ nerves will be totally calmed by eating alongside a bunch of blankly staring wooden people with chin beards and old Hollywood smiles, though.

Head over to the Washingtonian to check out a few unnerving photos of the mannequin-filled restaurant or to bookmark the story for when it inevitably updates with news of the dolls coming alive at night to tie up O’Connell and take over his business

Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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