Missing diners, restaurateur serves mannequins | Inquirer News

Missing diners, restaurateur serves mannequins

, / 05:34 AM February 04, 2021

NO RESERVATION Therese Mahieu recreates the ambiance of prepandemic dining at her shuttered restaurant in Rixensart, Belgium, by seating dummies with wigs, hats, and scarves at tables, complete with glasses of wine. —REUTERS

RIXENSART, BELGIUM—A Belgian restaurant owner near Brussels says she misses her customers so much since her restaurant was forced to close last October under coronavirus laws, she has replaced them with mannequins.

Therese Mahieu began serving glasses of red wine to dummies with wigs, hats, and scarves sitting at the bar this week in protest against Belgium’s Covid-19 measures.


The dummies, made of balloons, give her a sense of community that has been lost at restaurant Chez Therese in the town of Rixensart, in Brussels’ commuter belt, since clientele were barred from entering to prevent Covid-19 infections.

While Belgium has yet to see a surging third wave of coronavirus cases, the home of the European Union and Nato has one of the world’s highest per capita Covid-19 death tolls.


Distancing measures

Mahieu wasn’t the first restaurateur to welcome stand-in “diners” during the pandemic. Others did it to maintain physical distancing in their establishments.

In Thailand, in the early months of the global crisis last year, Natthwut Rodchanapanthkul seated stuffed pandas at the tables of his restaurant, Maison Saigon, to ensure compliance with distancing guidelines and provide lonely customers some company.

In Vilnius, Lithuania, restaurant owners and fashion designers banded together to put “theatrically dressed’’ mannequins on empty seats inside restaurants.

In Hofheim, Germany, a restaurant seated large teddy bears at some tables to keep diners safely apart.

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