The Reason This Restaurant Is Filling Its Dining Room With Mannequins

What will it take to fill a restaurant in the age of social distancing?

Patrick O'Connell, who is the executive chef at The Inn at Little Washington, may have an answer. The chef and his team, who are known for their theatrical take on contemporary American cuisine, are working with the Arlington Signature Theatre and Design Foundry to create a new look for the three-Michelin-star restaurant, and which will be designed to meet the needs of the social distancing era (via Eater Washington DC). Instead of leaving his restaurant half-empty, O'Connell is bringing in a special group of guests to take their places at his lavish property — ones that aren't likely to carry or spread COVID-19 among O'Connell's paying guests. 

We don't know what their names are likely to be — or even if they will have names — but these special guest mannequins will be occupying tables at The Inn at Little Washington as part of a special installation.

O'Connell is serious about keeping diners safe

While the life-sized dolls are expected to adhere to a dress code by wearing vintage 1940s clothing, don't expect them to be too posh. As one spokesman puts it, their style will align "within the whimsical vein of the Inn's reverently irreverent approach to hospitality."

While the mannequins are a fun way to impose social distancing, O'Connell isn't taking any chances with his live quests. His staff will wear masks either with Marilyn Monroe's smiles or George Washington's chins, and they will be deep cleaning the restaurant with infrared light. 

O'Connell also has a reason for trying to keep everything light-hearted and fun."I think it would do people a world of good to reduce their anxiety level when they come out to a place which is still unaffected, because if you watch your television, you think that there isn't such a place under a bubble," the chef tells Washingtonian

But if you're terrified of mannequins, we think you should skip The Inn until social distancing isn't a thing anymore. After all, dining with your worst nightmares can't be good for your anxiety levels.