Photo: yumbrellasomi//Instagram

Miami Restaurant Attempts ‘Socially Distant’ Dates, but Cops Shut It Down

News Food + Drink
by Elisabeth Sherman Apr 23, 2020

Like most cities in the United States, Miami has been ordered to shut down all nonessential businesses in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. Part of that shutdown means limiting restaurants to takeout and delivery orders only. But some people just can’t listen to instructions. Take chef Brian Hill, who appeared on Top Chef. His restaurant Comfort Kitchen, located in the Yumbrella food hall, decided to get creative in order to stay open. And it did not go well.

Hill’s restaurant had been open a grand total of four days when the pandemic swept the country and forced us all into quarantine. He scaled down to takeout orders but, according to Vice, he noticed that his customers were taking their food to a bench outside the food hall, which gave him an idea.

He and Steve Simon, the owner of Yumbrella, decided to hold a so-called quarantine date-night contest. They set up a table and chairs, placed six feet apart, and then roped the table off so it would be inaccessible to foot traffic. Then, they promoted the contest on Yumbrella’s social media channels, boasting that lucky couples could enter to win an evening out while keeping it “socially distant at all times.”

Hill probably thought he was being clever, but the city didn’t agree. A concerned citizen called the police, who put an end to the experiment. The contest lasted a single night, and entertained just one couple at the restaurant, who, let’s be honest, should not have left the house in the first place.

In a since-deleted Instagram post, Yumbrella complained that its “excitement has been crushed.” Simon told Vice that he thinks restaurants should still be allowed to serve customers in-house, and, to be fair, the servers used masks, gloves, and plastic cutlery for the one socially distant date.

At a time when restaurants are facing unprecedented closures, forever altering how Americans dine out, it’s not surprising that some people are getting creative with how they serve the public. But until the state gives the go-ahead, Yumbrella will just have to stick to takeout.

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