The Hustle

Mannequin customers are taking over the business world

From the sports world to fine dining, fake fans are in right now.

May 14, 2020

No one likes to walk into a restaurant and see empty tables. In the Before Times, you might have glanced warily at your friend: Are you sure about this place?

But with most states placing firm caps on customers, reopening restaurants have no choice but to operate at reduced capacity. And one Michelin-starred Virginia restaurant has a plan to keep customers from getting cold feet: Stock the empty tables with mannequins.

The plush Inn at Little Washington plans to seat fake diners dressed in high-end 1940s attire — think wedding dresses, pocket squares, and fedoras. Because nothing screams “this is normal” quite like a Michelin-starred version of Madame Tussauds.

Fake fans are in right now

Once upon a time, fake fans were the scourge of internet stan armies like the Beyhive. They claimed superfan status but had never even heard “Get Me Bodied.”

Now, the faux fan movement is spreading across the globe:

Some people are deploying mannequins to show neighbors how to keep healthy — one California man set up a group of socially distanced mannequins in his front yard.

When it comes to following health protocol, he explained, “Even a dummy can do it.”

So please don’t be alarmed if, the next time you show up to work, your officemate turns out to be made of plastic.

P.S. If anyone has information on the businesses supplying restaurants and other venues with these mannequins and cardboard fans, email

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