（Written by Matt W）
Recent World Health Organization reports state that COVID-19 is here to stay and will soon become an pandemic that we should all learn to live with.So, what impact will the pandemic have on our dining culture? Mandatory temperature checks at the restaurant entrance, large gaps between tables, and being served by robotic masked waiters?Well, possibly all of the above and more. Social distancing is one thing we’ll learn to live with for the unforeseeable future.
The Impact of Social Distancing on the Restaurant Industry
At the moment, we still do not know when restaurants are expected to reopen in most parts of the world although some states in the US have started allowing restaurants to open their doors albeit with extremely strict social distancing and safety requirements.
Most restaurant owners are already expressing fears of reopening their businesses under strict social distancing rules as being impractical and implausible.Diners may also lose interest in going to eat out at a restaurant where they sit in isolation served by waiters wearing masks and gloves. There’s seriously no fun in that.
The new normal under strict social distancing rules will definitely leave restaurantsoperating at a significantly reduced capacity, which is a scenario that many operatorsdon’t view as economically viable.
Individual Greenhouses to Keep Diners Apart
Restaurant greenhouses have been touted as one of the most practical ways of enforcing social distancing rules while keeping diners happy. The need to maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the food industry has even led a restaurant in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to experiment with new ways to keep their customers happy while abiding by the rules.Located at the Arts Center of Mediamatic Biotoop in Amsterdam, the Mediamatic
ETEN veganrestaurant has set up cozy greenhouses to allow their customers to follow social distancing rules while eating out. The eatery calls this new social distancing initiative Serres Séparées, which basically means greenhouses in French.
So far, the diners’ response has been great. Diners can still enjoy their favorite
four-course vegetarian delicacies while sitting in their own personal quarantine
greenhouses. At the moment, the service is still on a trial phase and is only
provided to family or friends groups of up to 3 persons. According to the Mediamatic ETEN’s website, all upcoming reservations have already been sold out.
The goal of dining greenhouses is to also minimize contact between diners and waiters. To achieve this goal, Mediamatic ETEN’s food servers wear gloves and face shields and use a long wooden board to serve customers seated inside individual greenhouses. The dishes, served on longboards, are slid on to the table from outside the sleek fashionable greenhouse.
Families and friends currently isolating in household groups can share the same greenhouse with a limit of three people per greenhouse. Mediamatic’s founder, Willem Velthoven recently stated that, if the plans work, the restaurant will build larger greenhouses for people isolating together in large household groups.
The greenhouse dining initiative comes at the right time in the Netherlands, where restaurants, theatres, and museums are expected to reopen at a reduced capacity as of June 1. The Netherlands has over 40,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Mediamatic ETEN already has reservations slated to start on May 21st and will still require permission to open from local and national authorities.
Greenhouse dining is expected to take off as many countries worldwide begin to allow restaurants to open under strict social distancing restrictions.Restaurant greenhouses are not only super-cozy, private, and stylish but provide a safer way to go out and have a great time at your favorite eatery.We hope more restaurants will soon adopt this new normal of public dining.