Amsterdam Restaurant Tests Out Individual Greenhouses For Dining Amid Pandemic

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It may be a long time before we return to dining in full-capacity restaurants, but some eateries are already experimenting with ways to bring patrons back while maintaining social-distancing guidelines.

One Dutch restaurant has conceived of a classy fix to serving guests while protecting them from the spread of coronavirus: small glass cabins that encase a booth for two or three people. Resembling little greenhouses, these pretty little pods line the waterfront patio behind ETEN restaurant in Amsterdam.

The concept is still in incubation, and as of yet has only been tried out by the family and friends of the restaurant’s staff. Still, the cabins, which allow servers to maintain proper distance from guests, create a chic, intimate ambiance for diners, though an issue may arise with summer heat.

 “It’s super-cozy, it’s really cozy, it’s nice and the food is delicious,” said Janita Vermeulen, who was invited to a trial dinner with her roommate.

Organizers are calling the project Serres Séparées, which is French for “Separate Greenhouses.”

“We are now learning how to do the cleaning, how to do the service, how to get the empty plates out again in an elegant way, so you still feel taken care of nicely,” said Willem Velthoven of Mediamatic, the arts center to which the restaurant is attached.

Restaurants throughout the Netherlands remain closed to the public until May 19, though kitchens are still operating for take-out service. But KNH, the Netherlands’ restaurant association, has stated that even if restaurants are allowed to reopen at limited capacity, many may still face financial ruin as a result of sustained social-distancing regulations.

But ETEN’s creative solution may put them on the map, bringing in new patronage once restrictions are relaxed, even if some social-distancing guidelines stay in effect.