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Restaurant Openings Include Bumper Tables, Wearing Pool Noodles, Thermal Cameras, and Food Lockers

Restaurant Openings Include Bumper Tables, Wearing Pool Noodles, Thermal Cameras, and Food Lockers

How much can you endure in order to eat at a restaurant?

Restaurants across the world have begun to reopen since the Wuhan coronavirus has started to calm down.

I’ve collected a few stories about restaurants going to extreme lengths to follow government restrictions, especially when it comes to social distancing.

Would you wear a pool noodle on a straw hat? Would you eat at a bumper table?

Pool Noodles on Straw Hats

A cafe in Germany has mandated patrons wear a pool noodle to enforce social distancing regulations. No, I am not kidding:

Last Saturday the owners of the Cafe Rothe in Schwerin — a town in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s home state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania — were allowed to reopen their doors to visitors after coronavirus restrictions were lifted.

While people enjoyed the company and the weather, the motto at the cafe was: “Keep the social distance.”

Rather than using floor markings and perspex screens to keep people apart, the owners of the cafe distributed straw hats with two colorful swimming noodles attached to the top.

Bumper Tables

Fish Tales in Ocean City, MD, showed off its new bumper tables to force patrons six feet apart from one another:

“It’s like a bumper boat, but it’s actually a table,” owner Shawn Harmon said of the design, which was developed by Revolution Event Design and Production in Baltimore.

A customer will stand in the center of the circular table surrounded by a rubber barrier that keeps them safely separated from other patrons in accordance with social distancing guidelines. The tables sit on wheels that allow them to stay mobile.

Thermal Imaging Camera

In Charlotte, NC, MOA Korean BBQ and Bar owner Sean Kim implemented the requirements of paper menus and social distancing. He also added a thermal imaging camera and screen at the hostess stand:

Kim already installed the camera at his restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina, where every staff member is screened as they continue to do take-out only.

The camera is set to alert customers and employees if their body temperature reads 100.4 degrees or more.

Kim said the idea came from how South Korea is handling the coronavirus pandemic and how the country is reopening.

“In South Korea in public places, it’s mandatory to have these thermal imaging cameras,” he said.

Kim said he will give those with a high temperature “discounted to-go meals or gift certificates.”

Pac-Man Mask

A mask that allows you to eat without removing it. What the hell:

A squeeze of a lever, much like a cyclist operates a handbrake, opens a slot in the front of the mask so that food can pass through.

The process could get messy with ice cream or sauces, but more solid morsels can be gobbled up in a flash a la Pac-Man in the arcade game.

“The mask will be opened mechanically by hand remote or automatically when the fork is coming to the mask,” Asaf Gitelis, vice president of Avtipus Patents and Inventions, said on Monday as he demonstrated the device at its offices near Tel Aviv.

“Then you can eat, enjoy, drink and you take out the fork and it will be closed, and you’re protected against the virus and other people sitting with you.”

Food Lockers

Stratis Morforgen wanted to open his new Brooklyn Dumpling Shop before the pandemic hit.

Morforgen planned the shop to have a “pickup counter and limited seating.” The coronavirus changed everything:

Two weeks into lockdown, however, Morfogen changed almost everything. The shop — now slated to open in July — vows zero human interaction. Instead of a server behind a counter, patrons will be greeted by an 11-foot-high wall of lockers, which will contain orders of steaming hot dumplings.

“When restaurants reopen, nobody is going to be saying, ‘Do you feel like Chinese or Italian tonight?’” Morfogen told Side Dish. “It will be, ‘Where do you feel safest?’”

The front of the shop will be staffed by a single greeter wearing a face covering and gloves, of course, who will beckon customers through a device that’s able to scan body temperatures.

If a patron draws a red light instead of a green one, it could mean they have a fever — or perhaps that they were holding a cup of hot coffee. For a final verdict, the greeter leads the customer to a wall unit that takes wrist temperatures. If the second reading lands in the red zone, sorry, no dumplings, according to Morfogen.

Only two customers will be allowed into the shop at a time (versus a planned capacity of 10 for the earlier design). Once inside, customers who haven’t already ordered from their phones can visit one of two wiped-down self-ordering kiosks.

The kiosks are equipped with heat-sensing screens that can detect fingers and credit cards hovering above them and which don’t need to be touched. Once finished waving their fingers and credit card over them, customers finally come face-to-face with the wall of lockers.

Robot Waiter?

Macco Robotics wants to help the restaurant industry with its DBot:

The “D” in Dbot actually does double duty in this case, as it stands for “disinfect” and “delivery” (duh). The main part of the Dbot is a mobile base on wheels that uses lidar and computer vision to autonomously map out and navigate around the inside of a restaurant. Different modules can be attached to the top of the base, such as a sprayer, which mists out disinfectant, and a tray module for carrying food and drinks to tables.

This means a restaurant could spend its open hours shuttling food to customers without human servers (reducing a vector of transmission), and then turn into a sprayer at the end of the day. (Macco said that the robot can also be controlled manually, should a location require disinfecting in hard-to-reach places.)

It is this modularity, according to Macco Robotics’ CTO Kishhanth Renganathan, that will make Dbot stand out in what is becoming the quickly commoditized space of restaurant server robots. “It’s not just a delivery bot,” Renganathan said to me over the phone this week, “You are just buying one robot for two different applications.”


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Uh, No…no, no, no.

When government can command a populace to flip-flop its clocks back n forth twice a year, other herd manipulations aren’t surprising.

Would you wear a pool noodle on a straw hat? Would you eat at a bumper table?

This has triggered me, Mary. I’ll be making “Green Eggs and Ham” rhymes for the rest of the day …

Would you wear a noodle hat?
I will not wear one and that is that!
Then a bumper table you must wear
I will not wear one here or there!
I will not wear one any where!

I can endure none of it.

Bumper Tables?

Tough to belly up to the bar. Or, more practically, to get into the rest room.

If these are the new “ideas,” I’ll continue take-out.

3m, 6 if you follow the precautionary principle (e.g. [catastrophic] [anthropogenic] global warming, “burden” h/t Obama). Also, don’t forget the goggles. The eyes are a transmission path to a viral sanctuary.

The Bumper tables likely pose a potential ADA violation as there are many people, seniors and handicapped, who could not use a bumper table.

Albigensian | May 18, 2020 at 1:49 pm

At best, this has a stench of junk science to it. For there’s nothing magical about six feet. Nor is it easy to predict airflows inside a building (or an airplane, etc.) for air is a fluid, and the flow of actual fluids tends to be chaotic. It’s not as if air actually flows in a smooth, laminar flow from source to sink, after all.

Which is to say, if you’re sitting near someone who’s contageous you might well be spared even as someone seven feet away is not. Those looking for “if I follow these rules I’ll be safe” will be disappointed, as will those expecting “we’re all doomed” scenarios upon re-opening. Risks of transmission in a restaurant or other public accommodation certainly can be mitigated, but perhaps not by all that much.

Unfortunately the most effective mitigation might just be to limit how much time one spends in such environments. Which is not such great news for those who work in them, is it? That, and anyplace that is actually outdoors seems a good deal safer than indoors, especially if/when people are in motion and dispersed.

The link below is one of the few attempts I’ve seen to study an actual case of COVID-19 transmission in a restaurant and it is, at least, eye-opening.

BTW, be sure to look at the figures.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Albigensian. | May 18, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    You are right….forced air under pressure flows in laminar fashion (in the right space) much like the blood in your vessels under pressure. Special containment facilities use laminar air flow in just such fashion. Restaurants do not have any of this forced air capability and the flow is either turbulent or stagnant in nearly all settings.

    Andy in reply to Albigensian. | May 18, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    You had me at “stench of junk science”

It strikes me that the restaurants with the most outlandish distancing measures will therefore get the maximum free advertising out of the deal on social media.

    healthguyfsu in reply to georgfelis. | May 18, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    That would be transient I imagine. Once the novelty wears off, people will choose convenience over absurd awkwardness.

IneedAhaircut | May 18, 2020 at 2:18 pm

Someone should file an ADA lawsuit. 😉

Paul In Sweden | May 18, 2020 at 2:37 pm

The whole world has gone mad. I struggle to understand how seemingly all of the nations’ leaders have gone bonkers.

In the nineties I remember while traveling on business out to the west coast, an Irish bartender in San Fransisco grabbed the counter and had a panicked look on his face. He said to me: “Did you feel that?” I said no. He said “I think we had a little earthquake”. I repeated no, I didn’t feel anything. He then said to me something that I have taken to heart. He said “My uncle always tells me, when the earth shakes, there’s nothing else you can do but hold on and shake right along with it”.

At this point in time there is nothing that I can do, and I like you are pretty much spectators watching the world in unison going crazy. Fasten your seat belts. I’m turning to reading my books, and mostly ignoring the news, occasionally sticking my head up. Whatever works for you, do it. I’m just shaking my head. This is insane.

I am amazed at the amount of rational people that have surrendered to fear. I now know what Winston Churchill meant.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | May 18, 2020 at 4:25 pm

Customer at hot dog cart:

Yes I’ll have the six foot long.

I went in to the doctor’s office today for my annual and had a little fun about their masks. Her name was Peggy. A sweet little blonde with a dash of freckles across her nose. We never dated or were close friends even, but I was the first guy to see her hoohoo. We were five and well into show me yours and I’ll show you mine when our parents caught us. I almost jumped out of my skin when my mom yelled my name. We didn’t have cute masks in those days or we could have remained anonymous.

    amwick in reply to Firewatch. | May 18, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    I have my annual tomorrow with a new Dr.. I am going to ask about the antibody test..

    I am planning on wearing a bandanna, but I left my cowboy hat in GA…

nordic_prince | May 18, 2020 at 4:44 pm

So much stupid. This is the new ABnormal.

Hopefully in a few months we’ll be able to look back at this farce and shake our heads at how foolish people were to lose their minds over this nonsense.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to nordic_prince. | May 18, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    If it’s abnormal, it’s Democrat!

    I think that’s their 2020 presidential campaign theme slogan.

We are just being played for fools.

This “science” has been brought to us by….

the same jackasses that over prescribed opioids for the past 2 decades.

I’m not going to partake. By not partaking, others will choose to not partake. Lead by example. I wear the mask while entering Costco– then I take it off except when I’m 2 ft from someone.

So,, the jokes write themselves..

I (a disabled vet on arm crutch with multiple other joint/spine injuries) is usually the type to mock those who file ADA suits as they are usually just looking for a payout.
but I would support any lawsuit against an american restaurant that would force a disabled person that uses a crutch to walk with to use those bumper pool setups.
in fact if I knew of one in my area I would PURPOSELY go to it and make an issue of it.

Some of these are kinda funny. The IR detector, though is unobtrusive and sensible, and it’s about time we got some robot waiters.

If the restaurants are coming up with this on their own, then I don’t get why people are complaining. If you don’t like it, don’t go to the restaurant for sit down service and order it to-go. People losing their minds because they can’t experience that greasy-spoon experience is bemusing, at best.

This reminds me of the images of the future that were so popular during the 1950s. Some of the futurists’ flights of fancy turned out to be prescient, such as the communication devices that Dick Tracy, Sam, and Liz used to catch the criminals. But we can look back at most of those ideas and laugh now.

Twenty or thirty years from now our kids and grands will do the same thing with much the same reaction.

After a few cocktails, those inner tube tables and pool noodles could make for some fun, harmless bar battles

If you guys think this is bad, wait until you see what will happen when we all go back to work!

Wall Street Journal Podcast

Welcome Back to the Office. Your Every Move Will Be Watched.
As companies figure out how to reopen their offices while keeping workers safe, some employers are turning to invasive new surveillance measures — at the office and in workers’ personal lives. WSJ’s Chip Cutter explains why heightened surveillance at work could outlast the pandemic.