Table for One: How Restaurants Are Changing Post-Coronavirus

The unique set-up at Mediamatic ETEN restaurant in Amsterdam allows diners to enjoy their meals in socially distanced comfort
The unique set-up at Mediamatic ETEN restaurant in Amsterdam allows diners to enjoy their meals in socially distanced comfort | © Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images
Photo of Becca Blond
11 June 2020

For months, most of the world’s hotels, bars and restaurants have been shuttered as Covid-19 wreaked global havoc. But slowly, the hospitality industry is coming back to life, with restaurants from Sweden to Colorado re-opening in creative ways.

Restaurants across the globe are working to incorporate social distancing without sacrificing too much in the way of capacity. From restaurants setting up tents and tables in their parking lots, to hotels offering full property buyouts for reduced costs, here are some of the most creative ways the global travel industry is tackling life post coronavirus.

Book in at Table for One in Sweden

One of our favourite creative initiatives comes out of rural Värmland village in Sweden. It’s a pop-up meadow restaurant with just one table and one chair (you must dine solo) that’s only guaranteed to be open until 1 August. Called Table for One, it is set in the middle of a field outside the home of Rasmus Persson and Linda Karlsson. The food is delivered via a picnic basket tied to a rope cranked down from the couple’s kitchen with the assistance of an old bicycle wheel.

Värmland is home to the unique Table for One restaurant | © Margit Kluthke / Alamy Stock Photo

The three-course menu is created by Rasmus, who is a professionally trained chef, and includes a craft cocktail pairing from Joel Söderbäck who is known for his trendy Stockholm bars. The concept came from when Linda’s parents, who are at high risk for Covid-19, showed up unannounced for dinner during the pandemic. The couple refused to let them inside and instead set a table with white linen in their garden and served them through the window.

Also in Sweden, Stadt Hotel – a few hours north of Gothenburg – recently turned its suites into an extension of the restaurant. Rather than reserve a table, guests reserve a room in which they can enjoy dinner delivered like room service. The rooms are booked for two and a half hours, with a full menu from the hotel’s restaurant. They can accommodate up to 12 people at a time.

Try dining al fresco in Colorado

Restaurants across Colorado are open again, although at only 50% indoor capacity. To combat this, the city of Denver is accepting applications from restaurants to expand their outdoor seating capacity by setting up tables and tents in adjacent parking lots, on sidewalks and even on city streets that will be closed to traffic. So far, 284 Denver restaurants (bars are still closed across the state) have applied.

“It allows for more spacing and allows for the restaurants to be able to survive,” Governor of Colorado Jared Polis said in a televised news conference. “Because at 50% many of them can’t get by, this is a way where they can be at 100% of the normal capacity or even more, whatever their kitchen can handle, if the customers are there, as people are spread apart outdoors.”

Allowing people to dine outdoors is helping Colorado restaurants to survive | © Dan Leeth / Alamy Stock Photo

Colorado’s mountain towns are also starting to re-open. Aspen announced its hotels and restaurants are now taking reservations at 50% capacity. Like in Denver, restaurants are working to utilise outdoor areas to create more socially distanced dining space. The destination is also promoting hiring private guides, rather than partaking in group activities, to explore its gorgeous natural surroundings safely. Aspen Alpine Guides offers a full roster of private guided adventures from summiting a 14’er (a mountain higher than 14,000 ft (4,267m)) to learning to fly fish.

Enjoy an all-inclusive extended stay in Port Jervis, New York

Set on 500 acres (202 ha) about 90 minutes from New York City in the town of Port Jervis, Cedar Lakes Estate is turning its 18 luxury cottages into all-inclusive extended-stay retreats through autumn. Guests can book stays of one week or longer at a rate that includes all food and beverages.

With a capacity of just 50 guests on 500 acres, social distancing outside your party is super easy here. There are also no common areas, hallways, elevators or lobbies. And Cedar Lakes has pledged to leave 24 hours between bookings for deep cleanings.

Cedar Lakes Estate dates back to the early 1900s, when it was created as a summer camp for inner-city kids. In the 1980s, the Karvellas family purchased it and ran it as a training camp for elite athletes. Sisters Lisa and Stephanie Karvellas spent their childhood summers there, and about eight years ago, transformed it into a rustic, refined destination resort known for hosting weddings and private retreats. The food here is top-notch and all catering is done in house.

Stay local in Sedona, Arizona

Famed for its vortexes and healing energy, it makes sense Sedona would be a popular road trip destination during the Covid era and the town is open for out of state and international visitors. Small businesses here are taking safety and the pandemic seriously, however, with extra safety measures.

Check into El Portal Sedona Hotel, a four-diamond boutique property with just 12 rooms that are spaced out around an open-air courtyard. Many come with their own patio or balcony, which makes it easy to socially distance from guests not in your party. The small size of the property combined with stringent cleaning policies also means less chance of contamination.

A Sunset Chalet contactless check-in allows you to bypass the lobby and go directly to your room, while you can also have the included breakfast delivered to your suite to further avoid contact with other guests.

For dining and shopping, head to the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, where you’ll find a number of eclectic galleries, boutiques and restaurants all operating with enhanced safety measures.

Try Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village for a spot of shopping | © imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Sedona has plenty of relatively solitary activities around town as well. Besides hiking its red rock canyons and buttes, you can rent your own jeep with Barlow Adventures: 4WD Trips, Training & Rentals for a private off-roading adventure. The jeep rentals are private-party only and masks are provided when you pick yours up.

Giving back to frontline workers in Los Cabos, Mexico

Hacienda Encantada Resort & Residences is offering a 60% discount to healthcare workers who wish to stay at the property until January 2021. The luxury property in Los Cabos is located on a rocky headland facing the Pacific Ocean and has colourful Mexican hacienda-style decor throughout.

The property has a range of rooms, suites and private villas, that later of which are perfect for social distancing with their own swimming pools and fire pits. There is also 24-hour room service throughout the resort so you don’t need to dine in public should you not feel safe doing so.

Eat at a greenhouse restaurant in Amsterdam

Mediamatic ETEN at the Mediamatic Biotoop arts centre in Amsterdam has erected individual plastic greenhouses to serve four-course vegetarian meals along its waterfront. Being dubbed “Serres Séparées”, the greenhouses can accommodate two to four guests and must be reserved in advance. A two-person dinner costs €100 (£88), while a family dinner in the two extra-large greenhouses is €200 (£176). To dine alone costs €60 (£53). Restaurants, museums and theatres across the Netherlands are expected to open in early June with reduced capacity.

The waterside greenhouses at Mediamatic ETEN offer socially distanced vegetarian dining | © Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images

Book a private island in Florida

If money is no object, you can go ahead and book the only private island resort in the US, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, and throw a major party. Accessible only by seaplane or boat, Little Palm Island sits just off the Florida Keys and recently underwent an extensive renovation. The package includes access to the entire four-acre (1.6 ha) isle and comes complete with all meals, spa treatments and activities. Rates start at a cool $250,000 (£204,920) for a three-night minimum stay.

Opt for rooftop yoga in Bali

Indonesia has seen relatively few Covid cases when compared to other countries, but at The Mansion Resort & Spa they aren’t taking any chances. The Ubud resort, which focuses on wellness, has moved its yoga and fitness classes into the fresh air. Yoga will now be taught in the rooftop restaurant space with social-distance spacing. The resort will also be taking temperatures of visiting guests and requiring you to bring your own yoga mat or purchase one there to ensure safety.

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