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'Quiet couples' dine at tables to meet social distancing measures

A South Carolina restaurant is sitting blow up dolls at empty tables to create an illusion of a full house while actual customers maintain their social distance.

TAYLORS, S.C. (WTHR) — A South Carolina restaurant is getting creative as it reopens following coronavirus closures.

Paula Starr Melehes, owner at Open Hearth, is giving an illusion of a full house to her restaurant while helping actual customers maintain their social distance.

Rather than blocking off tables to achieve social distancing, Starr Melehes purchased 10 blowup dolls for roughly $140 and sat them at the empty tables.

The five "couples" are dressed in hand-me-down clothes — weighted down so they don't shift — and only one lost any air overnight.

"I might even kiss one of those dolls before the night's over," customer Rob McCarter said.

Diners are having fun with the dolls by taking pictures and posting them on social media.

So far, the quiet couples haven't gotten names but have brought much-needed business to the family-run restaurant.

"It's a concept that is not frightening to people, and it gives them something light to think about instead of virus and exes everywhere," Starr Melehes said.