A South Carolina Restaurant Uses Blow-Up Dolls to Make Sure Customers Keep Their Distance

(Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)
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Demonstrator’s hold “Baby Trump” balloons as Anti-Trump protestors began to gather at Soldier’s Field Veterans Memorial in Rochester, Minn., Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP)


Who wouldn’t wanna open a restaurant that blows up?

Or how about go to one?

Open Hearth, in South Carolina’s Greenville County, recently re-welcomed hungry southerners after having its dining area shuttered in March due to a COVID clampdown.

Upon reopening, the owners wanted to make sure patrons keep their social distance.

To that end — as reported by Charlotte’s WSCOTV — Jimmy and Paula Melehes really blew it.

Over and over.

In lieu of roping off seating sections, the husband-and-wife proprietors placed blow-up dolls throughout the restaurant.

Paula explained:

“Instead of using scary yellow tape or roping off the empty tables, I thought, ‘We’re going to make this [place] look full.'”

I’m not so sure about that whole “instead” thing. Maybe you could say they swapped “scary” for “creepy.”

To be clear, the dolls weren’t, shall we say, naughty by nature. Paula picked “the G-rated kind” on Amazon.


They were dressed up and placed at tables off limits to patrons with a pulse.

Paula believes that, when folks come in and see the puffed-up people, “They’re going to laugh.”

I’m of the opinion the other kind of dolls would’ve been funnier. The couples’ aired-up chowers of choice might be another reason for customers to avoid going to sleep right after they eat — as you’ve heard before, it may cause nightmares.

But at least people are able to dine out again.

In South Carolina, guidelines require social distance, mask-wearing employees, and disposable menus.

On those fronts, Paula and Jimmy are golden.

In case you were wondering, Open Hearth’s been in business for 61 years. For now, closing up shop just isn’t in the cards — deadly pandemic or no.

Jimmy’s dad started it, and Paula and her man are crossing their Ts and dotting their I’s:

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure we do this right. We just didn’t want the virus to be what shuts us down.”


Despite their down-home antics, make no mistake — the joint offers a bit of the ritz. Their Cowboy Steak will run you $46, and the Filet and Lobster Tail comes in at a hefty $49.

I bet both are delicious.

And for the haters: If you think Open Hearth’s prices are inflated…wait’ll you see their customers.



See a few more pieces from me:

Made in Germany: Hamburg Cafe Takes a Hilarious Approach to Social Distancing

Party Like It’s 1799: Cops Bust Up an Amish Barn Bash for Violating Ohio’s Stay-at-Home Order

Take a Peek Into Portland’s Drive-Thru Strip Joint, and Gawk Over Its Name for Disrobed Deliveries

Woman Gets Shot in the Chest, Her Implant Deflects the Bullet

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