The restaurant industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
As we adjust to our socially distanced lifestyles, it’s impossible to imagine the prospect of eating in a restaurant in close quarters with other diners.
One restaurant in Amsterdam has been testing a concept that involves diners eating in enclosed waterside greenhouses and being served food from a long wooden plank.
Staff at the Mediamatic Eten restaurant have been trialling the concept of “Serres Séparées” (French for “separated greenhouses”) at the Oosterdok, an island dock in the Netherlands’ capital.
The restaurant plans to launch the greenhouse dining experience in June, when lockdown restrictions in the Netherlands will ease, and allow the reopening of bar terraces. Under those restrictions, restaurants, bars, cinemas, theatres, and museums can begin operating once again, but people have to reserve in advance and keep a 1.5 metre distance.
The restaurant says the greenhouses are only suitable for people who “are already intimate together.”
“We want people to still feel safe to eat together and share a meal,” Giulia Soldati — chef at Mediamatic Eten — told BBC News. “All the spaces are separated but people can still share the space and share food together. We will always be outside so it’s going to be safe. We are gonna wear gloves and a protection mask.”
Soldati said that waiting staff will never cross the threshold of the greenhouse and the interior of the structure is the guests’ space.
Food is served using a long wooden plank, which is passed through the greenhouse entrance. The boards are cleaned thoroughly after each serving.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the restaurant was formed of a significantly larger greenhouse space, which has now been replaced with these individual smaller greenhouses.
“It’s actually a challenge to redesign hospitality,” Soldati told the BBC.