Eleven months into the pandemic, it has become clear that saving restaurants will require extreme measures. They are doubling down on takeout. They are becoming grocery stores. They are building chalets in the snow. They are, after almost a year, still begging for industry-specific aid. The good people of Peter Luger, though, have another idea.
The idea is: wax figures of famous people.
Starting tomorrow, New York City restaurants will be allowed to increase their indoor occupancy to 35 percent. That leaves 65 percent of the space unoccupied.
Or does it? The 35 percent capacity rule only applies to actual people. There are no stipulations at all about wax people, which is why, according to a press release, the “iconic steakhouse” has partnered with Madame Tussauds to “fill empty seats” with wax replicas of celebrities. “Diners are invited to toast with Jon Hamm at the bar, enjoy a moment of elegance with Audrey Hepburn, or share a laugh with Jimmy Fallon,” explains the press release, promising an “an unforgettable dining experience.” I believe this. I would never forget this dining experience, not in my waking life or in my dreams.
Don’t worry: Al Roker will also be there “waiting to direct diners to the second floor.” All he can do is wait. That is because he is made of wax.
Peter Luger is not the first restaurant to experiment with pretend customers. In May, the Michelin-starred Inn at Little Washington, outside D.C., reopened with an “irreverent” coterie of mannequins dressed in 1940s garb. A pizza restaurant in Michigan draped its empty seats with bedsheet ghosts. But this is groundbreaking: Wax Audrey almost never shows up anywhere.
Despite the fact that they cannot move of their own volition, the special guest will only be around for a short time. If you would like to toast Jon Hamm, you’ll need to do it before March 1.