Michelin-starred restaurant the Inn at Little Washington uses mannequins to fill seats

An American restaurant is set to use mannequins like this to make its dining room appear full.
An American restaurant is set to use mannequins like this to make its dining room appear full. Photo: iStock

Remember the scene in Home Alone when Kevin McCallister hosts a party with mannequins to fool the Wet Bandits? It seems American chef Patrick O'Connell certainly does, as his restaurant will soon seat faux humans in response to social distancing requirements.

Washingtonian magazine reports the DC area's only three-Michelin starred restaurant - the Inn at Little Washington - plans to use mid-century shop mannequins to fill vacant tables from May 29. 

The move comes after Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced restaurants in the state could reopen under stage two of restriction easing to stop the spread of COVID-19, albeit at 50 per cent of their indoor dining capacity.

O'Connell has been working with a local theatre company to dress the mannequins in 1940s-era costumes. In an effort to make the restaurant seem less empty and more buzzy while social distancing rules are in place, the chef has also instructed floor staff to pour wine for the silent "customers" and ask them about their evening.

The Inn at Little Washington's tasting menu costs $660 with matched wine. The fine diner is renowned for its quirky opulence as much as its food - there's a koi pond, much brass, and cheese is served from a cart in the shape of a cow.

A spokesperson for the restaurant told US food news site Eater the couture sets will align "within the whimsical vein of the Inn's reverently irreverent approach to hospitality."

NSW restaurants are able to open from Friday under the fist stage of coronavirus restriction easing, but may seat no more than 10 customers at a time. 

Many Sydney venues are choosing to keep their chairs stacked as reopening for such a small number of customers is not financially viable, however Macleay Street Bistro, Aqua Dining, Ripples, Don't Tell Aunty and The Gantry have opened their reservations lines to take weekend bookings.

Good Food understands those restaurants have not approached David Jones to hire any spare mannequins for creepy use.