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Maryland Restaurant Floats Social Distancing Dining Plan: Inner Tube Tables


We report next on a restaurant that's trying to find creative ways to socially distance customers. Shawn Harmon co-owns Fish Tales bar and grill in Ocean City, Md., and has brand-new tables that are different.

SHAWN HARMON: It's like a big baby walker (laughter). There's a large tractor inner tube that surrounds a doughnut-shaped countertop, I guess you would call it. So you're standing, essentially, in the middle of the doughnut hole.

INSKEEP: OK. The table is on wheels so the diners, once they're in there, can scoot around and bump into each other without getting too close. His staff tested these out.


HARMON: We've primarily seen - it's kind of a novelty. You know, it's a kind of out-of-the-box thinking that you have to do to survive now.


The idea came from his wife's cousin, who owns a company called Revolution Events in Baltimore. Erin Cermak says when the pandemic started, event planning stopped.

ERIN CERMAK: The idea was basically just trying to get ourselves back to events. And so we, you know, kind of drew out 6 foot on the ground just to kind of visualize it and then worked from there.

INSKEEP: The company is now making face shields and plexiglass dividers and inventions like the table.

HARMON: We don't want to go too fast and go backwards. Any way you look at it, that's foolish and more expensive than taking your time and doing it one time.

INSKEEP: And Shawn Harmon says, for now, the restaurant is doing more work for less money.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIROCRATIC'S "SLEEPYFACE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.