Mannequins dressed in fine 1940’s-style attire were already theatrically staged Thursday at The Inn at Little Washington, tucked in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains about 90 minutes west of Washington, D.C.
Although business restrictions are set to begin easing in some parts of Virginia on Friday, restaurants can only serve dine-in customers in an outdoor space. The three-Michelin-star restaurant has opted to wait until May 29 to resume dining service indoors.
“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,” chef and proprietor Patrick O’Connell said in a statement. “This would allow plenty of space between real guests and elicit a few smiles and provide some fun photo ops.”
O’Connell, a self-taught cook, is a multiple James Beard Award winner, as well as the 2019 recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s lifetime achievement award. He was also awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2019.
“We’re all craving to gather and see other people right now,” O’Connell said. “They don’t all necessarily need to be real people.”