And owner Thierry Le Port decided that while ensuring customer safety, he wanted to “add a bit of ambiance” that might be lacking with reduced capacity.
So what did he find? Elegantly dressed mannequins sat at tables to help keep customers at a distance socially during dinner.
After coming up with the idea with the help of his wife Jane, Thierry shelled out £ 600 on six models, who are now scattered around the restaurant in Buxton, Derbyshire.
The dolls are dressed in trendy clothes to make them as realistic as possible and Thierry admitted that the unique idea has confused customers who arrive on the premises thinking it is full.
“I have thought long and hard about how to distance myself socially at the restaurant,” said the 59-year-old. “I couldn’t take out the tables and chairs because I don’t have room to put them.
“I don’t like to leave tables and chairs empty so I thought, I’ll put mannequins on them instead.
“They’re going to be here for a while, so we thought we better dress them up. We didn’t want them to look scruffy during their evening.
“It brought a bit of atmosphere to the restaurant. Now it’s full again every night.
“Customer response has been very good so far. But some people don’t even notice that they aren’t real people. They come to the restaurant and say “oh you’re full today”.
“Sometimes I have to explain and others don’t realize they are role models until they sit down. They are quite surprised but the reaction has been incredible. ”
Speaking further on the reaction, Thierry, a father of three, added: “People love it and want to sit next to them.
“They have become an attraction in themselves. People take a lot of pictures with them and some people talk to them too.
“Sometimes people say ‘I’m being looked at’, so I turn my head. “