Getting Creative With Social Distancing in the Restaurant Business: Living in a Post-Corona World

Looking for restaurant social distancing ideas? Awesome! In this article, we will have a look at some interesting, creative and at times funny restaurant social distancing ideas of the pandemic.

The Coronavirus or COVID-19 as it is otherwise called, has changed a lot about the way that we live our lives and the way that we do business. When it comes to most businesses the concept of social distancing and increased safety measures is difficult, but it’s still very much possible.

When it comes to the restaurant world, however, it can be much more difficult to achieve. That’s why some restaurants have had to get a little more creative about just how they encourage and provide social distancing. 

What is Social Distancing?

As a quick recap, when we talk about social distancing we’re talking about making sure that it’s possible for people to keep at least 6 feet between themselves and others.

It’s also about making sure that people are distanced enough that the chances of spreading the Coronavirus (or anything else) are greatly mitigated.

All people are asked to observe this type of social distancing and to make sure that they are giving each other space while outside their homes in any capacity. While this is relatively simple to do in a store, it’s not as easy to do while eating at a restaurant. 

Special Dinner Guests

There are a number of different restaurants that are bringing in new dinner guests to make your restaurant a whole lot more fun and a whole lot safer at the same time. But there are plenty of different types of ‘guests’ to bring in.

The Inn at Little Washington

restaurant social distancing ideas

This rather high-end establishment is located in Washington, Virginia and has a distinctly luxury feel to it. That’s why they’ve chosen to encourage social distancing by filling some of their tables with guests ahead of time.

Their ‘pre-registered’ guests are all mannequins, tastefully dressed in 1940’s attire and enjoying their own meals at tables that are closed off to other patrons. It’s a fun way to add to the feel of the restaurant but still keep the real people guests from getting too close. 

The Open Hearth

restaurant social distancing ideas

Mannequins aren’t for everyone, so The Open Hearth had a different idea, blow-up dolls. They dressed up their dolls in summer clothes and set them at the tables that regular guests aren’t going to be allowed at.

That way, the restaurant, located in Greenville County, South Carolina, always looks like it’s full. These dolls are definitely going to be fun to look at and while their painted on smiles might seem a little strange, at least you’re not going to be looking at completely empty tables while you’re enjoying your meal. 

Five Dock Dining

restaurant social distancing ideas

All right, so maybe you’re not so sure about mannequins or blow-up dolls but how about cardboard cutouts? That’s exactly what Five Dock Dining in Sydney has done.

They’ve actually gone all out too because not only are there cardboard cutouts in the seats they don’t want you to sit in, but they have background sound of all those ‘guests’ talking and enjoying their meals as well.

So when you walk in it’s going to feel just like you’re used to and it’s going to look like something totally new. And who knows, it might be a new normal that you actually start to like. 

Bring On the Animal Life

Bringing some animals in will definitely make your dinner experience a whole lot of fun. And all you need to do is take a look at some of the different stuffed animals (or other materials) there are out there to get creative. 

Bar-B-Q Plaza

restaurant social distancing ideas

​Located in Bangkok, Thailand, the Bar-B-Q Plaza has decided to bring in some prehistoric guests that they hope are going to keep people in their proper seats. After all, are you really going to go up against a dinosaur to get a different table?

Here you’re going to have cardboard dinosaurs spaced all the way around the restaurant to make sure no one gets too close to other diners. And if you really want to have some fun with the new guests you can even have your next meal with one (to keep the other patrons away). 

Maison Saigon

restaurant social distancing ideas

​Located in Bangkok, Thailand, Maison Saigon is capitalizing on something super cute that you won’t mind seeing in a restaurant, panda bears.

They’re stuffed, so don’t worry too much about checking out this restaurant where you’ll be able to share a table with a panda if you’re alone or keep them between you and other guests if you’re dining with family.

They’re definitely going to liven up the atmosphere of the place and they’ll be a whole lot more fun to dine with than some dinner companions, right?

Honey Salt

restaurant social distancing ideas

Along the same lines as Maison Saigon, this restaurant has actually brought out teddy bears (but not the tiny ones that might be used to).

These teddy bears are actually quite large and while they’re not necessarily blocking off tables, they are blocking off the bar area. After all, in Summerlin, Las Vegas it’s still illegal to have a bar open, even if the restaurant itself is open.

So, you can have a great meal and watch the teddy bears having a great time up at the bar (but you can still get your drinks at the regular tables). 

Izu Shaboten Zoo

restaurant social distancing ideas

If you want a totally different stuffed animal to enjoy your meal with then check out this restaurant at the zoo in Japan. You’ll be able to dine surrounded by capybaras, which are super cute little stuffed animals (and you can see real ones while you’re at the rest of the zoo).

These are something a little more unique than a stuffed bear and they’re still going to make sure that you know where you should be sitting and which seats you should be avoiding while you’re enjoying that next meal on your break from walking around the zoo. 

Make the Most of Hats

Hats can be a lot of fun and they can definitely give you a sense of style. But what’s even more unique is getting a hat that can provide you with a way to keep away from others. And maybe express yourself in a unique way as well. 

Burger King

restaurant social distancing ideas

Burger King is having a bit of fun with the idea of social distancing by getting some of their guests to wear a crown. Of course, we’ve all seen the Burger King crowns and maybe worn them a time or two, but you’ve never worn one that’s quite this large.

It’s being used in Germany exclusively (and only a few of the restaurants have adopted them), but they’re definitely large enough to keep people from getting too close. If you really want to maximize the social distance you can even opt for their ‘Social Distancing Whopper’ which comes with extra onions.

Café Rothe

restaurant social distancing ideas

​Located in Schwerin, Germany, Café Rothe has a unique method of encouraging people to stay further away from each other as well. They have sun hats that will help you keep the sun out of your face so you can enjoy a meal, but that’s not all they’re going to do.

These hats actually have pool noodles on them so you can make sure other guests in the restaurant aren’t getting too close to your personal space. And if they do get to close a little knock on the head with a pool noodle isn’t going to hurt anyone. 

Unique Dining

There are plenty of ways to get a little more unique about your dining experience. Between greenhouses to eat in, solo ‘restaurants,’ and moving tables you can have a whole lot of fun and they make the entire experience something totally different from what you’ve had before. 

Fish Tales

restaurant social distancing ideas

Fish Tales Bar

You can have a great time and a whole lot of laughs at Fish Tales in Ocean City, Maryland. They created special tables that people can actually wear. That’s right, it’s your own personal table that keeps people from getting too close, because it’s actually a giant inner tube that you can slide around with you.

You can still walk (or roll) over to others and have a conversation but you’re not going to get too close before you bounce right back. Plus you have somewhere to set your drink while you’re doing all that socializing. Why didn’t we think of rolling tables before? 


restaurant social distancing ideas

​Want to have a beautiful view, the ability to see neighboring diners and the right amount of social distancing? How about your own private greenhouse to eat in?

ETEN did exactly that with their restaurant located on the Oosterdok marina. You and your dining partner will get your own little greenhouse, which means you can see the marina and you can see the other diners all around you, so you’re definitely not alone.

Plus you’re going to have a unique experience that is definitely going to set your dinner apart from anything else you’ve experienced. 


restaurant social distancing ideas

​Located in Paris, France, H.A.N.D. has a unique dining option for their guests as well. You actually get your own little cone made out of plastic, which is actually similar to a lampshade, but made with clear material.

That way, you can dine with your friends or family but each of you is actually separated by a protective shield. It helps you to enjoy your meal without worrying about the person breathing over the table beside you. Plus, you can still see everything and everyone around you to enjoy your time out. 

The Penguin Eat Shabu

restaurant social distancing ideas

This isn’t the only restaurant to go with simple plastic dividers but it’s definitely one that’s made them a little differently. The Penguin Eat Shabu is in Thailand and offers plastic barricades at every table so even your dining companions are separated from you.

That means you have the freedom to dine with even more guests and friends because you can feel comfortable talking through the plastic sheeting and still enjoying your favorite dishes at the same time. 

Bord for En

restaurant social distancing ideas

Located in Varmland, Sweden, this unique dinner experience is for a single guest to enjoy a great view and some great food. You actually dine entirely alone, in the middle of a field, which might seem a little strange but it’s definitely going to be beautiful. Plus, there’s not even a server.

Instead, you sit at your elegantly dressed table and wait for the food to be delivered to you in a basket, on a clothesline. That way there’s no interaction and you still get to enjoy a great meal that’s made with local ingredients. What’s even better is that the meal is a three course extravaganza of international cuisine. 

Open Air Dining

There are a number of different cities that are looking at opening up entire districts of their towns for open air dining. Instead of sitting in a restaurant and having to worry about social distancing in a closed in space, cities are shutting down the streets.

This allows the local restaurants to set up tables outside (still distanced) and give people plenty of space and fresh air while they’re enjoying their meals. It’s happening in Oakland, Berkeley and a whole lot more places throughout the country and abroad. 

Domino Park

restaurant social distancing ideas

If you prefer to dine ‘al fresco’ you can take your picnic with you to Domino Park where they’ve actually created circles in the grass for you to enjoy some socially distanced companionship.

If you want to have a nice picnic and watch other families doing the same you can set up in your own little circle. Each one is spaced enough to keep people apart but still give you that feeling of togetherness.

And you don’t just have to eat in your circle. You can participate in anything you want from yoga and workouts to reading or just relaxing and people watching. 

Basic Social Distancing

​Of course, there are plenty of restaurants that aren’t getting quite as creative but they’re still making sure that their patrons are safe when they visit.

That’s where you get some of the more basic options that are going to make sure people continue to visit their favorite restaurants. While not ever restaurant is using measures like those we mentioned above, they are using some of the basic components of those measures.

And those methods are still providing an enhanced level of safety for guests.

Blocked Chairs/Tables

restaurant social distancing ideas

Customers take their meal while some chairs are marked with red tapes as authorities implement social distancing at a hawker centre, amid fears about the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Singapore on March 18, 2020. (Photo by CATHERINE LAI / AFP) (Photo by CATHERINE LAI/AFP via Getty Images)

Some restaurants are simply using yellow caution tape or other tape to mark off seats at tables or even entire tables to make sure that no one is getting to close to each other. That refers to people at other tables (so you’re not getting too close to strangers) but the people at your own table as well.

That way you don’t have to worry about having dinner with a friend because you’re still going to be kept apart and you’ll be able to make sure there aren’t too many people at your table at the same time. Some restaurants are actually removing tables and chairs that they don’t want guests to use as well.

Plastic Sheeting

restaurant social distancing ideas

​There are plenty of different ways that plastic sheeting has been used throughout different restaurants. Some are putting it in between tables so that they can keep everyone separated.

Some are putting it between each spot at a table to make sure that even guests dining together are kept separated. You will also find a number of different types of plastic sheeting put in with shower curtains, plexi-glass and more being used to create a protective barrier.

They’re also being put up in different ways to provide a slightly different experience each time.

Standing Room

restaurant social distancing ideas

Restaurants will sometimes have a line of people who are waiting to even get a table and that’s likely to be even more of a problem with social distancing guidelines.

As a result, many restaurants are putting in special stickers or markers that let guests know just where they should stand so they aren’t getting too close to anyone.

That way they can wait for their table but they’re not going to be inching closer to other waiting diners at the same time (that tends to happen whenever we’re standing still for too long, right?).

Take it To-Go

restaurant social distancing ideas

Finally, restaurants are offering a whole lot more takeout options than they ever did before. In fact, you might be surprised at just how many restaurants that never did have takeout are now scrambling to make some changes to their menu, their restaurant and more to make sure there is plenty to go around.

After all, restaurants have only been allowed to open for a short period of time so they’re still transitioning out of the strictly to-go phase and getting used to being able to have people inside the restaurant at all. Not to mention they’re learning that to-go is a great thing to keep around. 

When it comes to taking care of guests, restaurant owners are required to follow a number of additional guidelines now that they never had to worry about before.

With so many new rules and the importance of social distancing it’s extremely important that restaurant owners look at the options. It’s time to get creative and maybe even have a little fun with it.

Whether you want to set up some mannequins to take up space or you’re looking to create your own little rooms for each of your guests, you can absolutely make any restaurant work.