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‘Bumper tables’ made of inner tubes: Here’s how one Ocean City restaurant plans to enforce social distancing

O.C. restaurant Fish Tales plans to install "bumper tables" to enforce social distancing when it reopens. (Katie Kirby, Revolution Event Design & Production)

An event planning company in Baltimore has unveiled a unique way to socialize while practicing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Revolution Event Design & Production created what it is calling a “bumper table,” a table with wheels attached to the bottom of its legs and surrounded by an inflated inner tube. The creation keeps participants six feet from each other, but allows them the opportunity to talk, eat or drink in social settings.

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“When COVID hit, we found ourselves with a lot of time on our hands because people aren’t exactly booking events in the immediate future,” said Erin Cermak, Revolution’s founder and CEO, who hatched the idea for the bumper tables. “We wanted to come up with a creative and fun way to keep everyone safe and compliant, but still bring back the social and festive and party aspect of the event. So we’ve been working on a number of different products, and this is the first one that we’re launching.”

The bumper tables made their debut Saturday at Fish Tales, a restaurant in Ocean City. Cermak is a cousin of Donna Harman, who along with her husband Shawn have owned Fish Tales for 37 years.

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Shawn Harman said he and his wife ordered 10 tables with a plan to purchase as many as 40 to be used in the restaurant’s 3,000-square-foot parking lot, which is a licensed premise. He said each table will be sanitized before being used by a customer.

“If you come in to get a pound of shrimp and a beer, you can stand in one of these and walk around and look at things and talk to people,” he said. “You’re safely distanced, and you have a place to enjoy your food and beverage.”

Because the restaurant is still closed for dine-in eating, employees, family members and family friends took the tables out for a trial run on Saturday. Harman said the tables caught the attention of people milling around the restaurant Saturday.

“They all wanted to get in them and try them out, but we said, ‘Yeah, you can get in them, but we can’t serve you any alcohol,’” he said. “But the reception to them has been extremely strong, and there are other restaurants in other parts of the country that have contacted us to get information to order them from Revolution.”

Cermak said she was surprised and happy to wake up Monday and see the tables included in media reports as far away as Malaysia. She said many restaurants, cafes and even one professional sports franchise (which she declined to identify) have inquired about the tables.

“We knew it was going to be popular, but we never expected it to be all over the world,” she said. “I literally have been on the phone since I woke up this morning with people saying, ‘Call this person,’ and ‘Call that person.’”

The 38-inch-tall tables can accommodate people ranging in heights from 4 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet, 2 inches. Customized tables cost $500 each, non-customized tables are $400 each, and tables can be rented for $200 per day.

Revolution also has been manufacturing face shields and hospital gowns, but Cermak said the tables are more in line with the company’s creative juices.

“Our core is creativity, our core is crazy and fun and re-engineering normal things,” she said. “We try to make our events buzzworthy and interactive, and we try to come up with weird things for people to do. This is more of an extension of what the company is.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly identified Donna and Shawn Harmon as owners of Ocean Tales in Ocean City. They own Fish Tales. The Sun regrets the error.

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