Restaurant uses blow-up dolls to ensure customers practice social distancing

TAYLORS, S.C. — A South Carolina restaurant has come up with a unique way to ensure social distancing.

With dine-in service available at Open Hearth in Greenville County for the first time since March, the owners, Paula Starr Melehes and her husband, Jimmy, wanted to make the restaurant look as full as they could, WYFF-TV reported.

🤣Check out what this Greenville County restaurant has "sitting" at unused tables as it reopens for business tonight. The...

Posted by WYFF News 4 on Tuesday, May 12, 2020

So they ordered 10 blow-up dolls and dressed them up like patrons, even giving them wigs to wear.

“Instead of using scary, yellow tape or roping off the empty tables, I thought, ‘We’re going to make this restaurant look full,’” Melehes said.

She ordered the blow-up dolls from Amazon -- “the G-rated kind,” she said -- dressed them up and seated them at all of the tables that won’t be occupied by real customers.

“My grandson told me they look kind of creepy,” Melehes said. “But, I think, when people walk in, they’re going to laugh.”

The owners said they are following social distancing guidelines by spacing out customers, using disposable menus, and ensuring employees wear masks.

South Carolina is one of several states which started easing their restrictions about two weeks ago.

The family-run restaurant has been in business for 61 years, since Melehes father-in-law first opened it.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure we do this right,” Melehes said. “We just didn’t want the virus to be what shuts us down.”

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