- Peter Luger Steak House in Brooklyn stages a number of wax figures in the restaurant last week.
- New York restaurants are now at 35% capacity for indoor dining.
No matter how badly we want life to return to normal already, we’re still mired in COVID regulations, trying to keep each other safe. Part of the landscape of the past year has been the reduced capacity for indoor dining in restaurants. During the warmer months, outdoor dining gave us some sense of normalcy, even if there were masks and face shields, and pod-only seatings. Over the winter, most restaurants were at 25% capacity, only just returning to 35%. Keeping diners safe from potential super-spreader events leaves a lot of empty tables and a general feeling of weirdness.
Probably not the worst dining companions you’ll ever have.
In Brooklyn, the Peter Luger Steak House has taken a novel approach to make things feel less odd. Or odder–but on purpose. They’ve teamed up with Madame Tussauds of celebrity-wax-figure fame to fill their capacity safely.
If you’re dining-in these days, you’re used to the tables on either side being empty to maintain a six-foot distance per COVID regulations. But eat at Peter Luger Steak House, and you might get lucky enough to sit next to Audrey Hepburn, Jimmy Fallon, Al Roker, or Michael Stranahan. All without fear of catching COVID. And, even though bars are still closed to patrons, that hasn’t stopped Jon Hamm from posting up at the bar as Don Draper–complete with a drink in hand. Of course, they’re all going to be a little light on conversation since they’re made of wax.
It’s impressive any restaurant has been able to stay open.
Last May (ugh, how has it been an entire year of this?!), we brought you a story of a Michelin star restaurant filling empty seats with dummies. Since then, there have been multiple shutdowns, reopenings, compromises, and adjustments. Restaurants may have turned their noses up at gimmicks before, but now they’re doing anything to get people back in the door.
Peter Luger has been in business for 130 years. Hopefully, the addition of the wax figures will help them reach another 130. They’re a temporary addition to the restaurant, due to return to the New York Madame Tussaud’s this week.
Maybe just order some takeout?
You have to admire the creative ways restaurants are trying to roll with the ever-changing guidelines. Besides filling indoor seats with wax figures and mannequins, they’re employing cute tactics to keep people safe. A German restaurant gave guests hats with six-foot pool noodles attached to encourage distancing. Many restaurants worldwide installed curbside ordering windows and built individual dining pods and tents with heaters to keep serving outside through the winter.
Any open restaurant is doing takeout these days. If wax figures and mannequins aren’t your thing, you can always just order a meal to go.