The Official Development Agency of the City of Vilnius

Mannequins in Cafés

Social distancing rules leave empty tables in the restaurants. Bringing in mannequins to fill them provides a unique chance to support other businesses from your community – like local fashion brands.
Vilnius is known for its busy restaurants and bustling cafés and bars. But the pandemic hit hard and strict social distancing rules permitted restaurants to serve guests only at every second table, leaving cafés half-empty and a bit less exciting to dine at.

Yet extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, which only extraordinary partnerships can produce. The creative community at the Vilnius Old Town Glass Quarter came up with the idea to use social distancing as an opportunity.

The owners of restaurants teamed up with fashion designers, who have also been struggling, and brought in mannequins – to keep the guests’ company and demonstrate latest collections. This way, the restaurants of the Glass Quarter were turned into fashion displays, thus not only solving the problem of the empty tables but also supporting the local fashion industry, which itself was struggling.

"An empty restaurant is any owner’s worst nightmare. And when that nightmare becomes a potential reality, you have to do everything for it not to materialize. For us, it was the odd but brilliant idea of dressing mannequins and sitting them down at the empty tables. I am glad we had the courage and optimism to reach out to fashion designers, because you never know what might come out of a seemingly peculiar cooperation."Bernie Ter Braak, owner of the restaurant Cozy and one of the authors of the idea.

And what came out was worth the effort. In two weeks, over 60 originally dressed mannequins showcased unique fashion pieces from 19 boutiques, featuring local fashion designers and brands.

This has helped both the fashion industry to showcase their products to new audiences and restaurants to attract more people. And at Cozy, mannequins are busy to this day.
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