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Dutch restaurant launches socially-distanced neighborhood dinners

Like most restaurants around the world, Bij de Tuinman has been performing a juggling act, coming up with new ideas every time a lockdown or change in government guidelines upends their business. Their latest innovation? The 'straat-maal', or street meal, which encourages neighbors to organize communal dinners while maintaining social distance.

Bij de Tuinman, set in a bucolic location on the outskirts of the Dutch town of Hilversum, didn't do delivery or take-out in the before times. Starting this week, however, they're offering free delivery if 10 or more meals are ordered for one street. All meals are brought to an organizer's doorstep, where those who want to join in can pick up their food. Neighbors then sit down to the same dinner at the same time, with food and Zoom screens connecting separate homes and creating a shared experience. Meals come with a Spotify playlist and a bag of 'gespreksstof', or conversation starters, to help get people chatting. 

Besides boosting orders for a restaurant in the toughest of times, we love this concept for its purpose of bringing people together, even if they can't be seated at the same table or gathered in the same backyard. Time for physically distanced yet socially connected block dinners to pop up in other locked-down parts of the world, too?