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The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

This restaurant in Amsterdam is redefining pandemic dining with private ‘greenhouses’

(Courtesy of Willem Velthoven/Anne Lakeman for Mediamatic Amsterdam)

Most of what we love about restaurants makes dining out problematic during the coronavirus pandemic. Sure, we love eating the food, but going to restaurants is just as much about experiencing the service, being out of your house and immersed in a communal atmosphere.

Most restaurants have closed their normal dine-in operations to stop the spread of covid-19. Then there’s Amsterdam, where one restaurant is thinking outside the box by putting patrons into boxes. Or rather, “greenhouses.”

Serres Séparées, French for “separate greenhouses,” is a project from the ETEN restaurant at Amsterdam’s Mediamatic arts center that hosts diners in individual glass enclosures.

“At Mediamatic we’re designing and testing new safe hospitality,” the art center wrote on its website. “Later this year we will serve our visitors amazing plant-based dinners in their own little greenhouse.”

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On April 27 and May 5, Serres Séparées ran soft openings, welcoming test diners into its five greenhouses set up along the Oosterdok marina.

Serres Séparées staff wore plastic shields over their faces and black gloves as they served restaurant guests their plant-based meals on long wooden planks.

“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,” Mediamatic’s Willem Velthoven told Reuters.

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It’s unlikely that all restaurants will adopt Mediamatic’s unique approach to post-pandemic dining, but they’re not alone in the effort to reshape the future of the hospitality industry.

Hotels and vacation rentals are retooling sanitation efforts, from changing check-in procedures to investing in new disinfecting technology. Airlines are looking to change the anatomy of planes.

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