The Lithuanian capital Vilnius has decided to allocate its public spaces to bars and cafes, to encourage the reopening of restaurants under required physical distancing measures. Turning the outdoor space into one vast open-air café, the city is taking new safety measures to step into the next phase of the lockdown.
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Vilnius, the Capital of Lithuania, Opens its Public Spaces for Cafes, to Help with Physical Distancing
“This place is really Instagrammable, you’ll see what I mean.”
Walking into a tiled entryway and catching a glimpse of the cocoon-shaped swings, I saw fast. Planta, located on a busy street in Downtown Toronto is an Instagram magnet. And they know it. Opened last fall, Planta’s geotagged posts grow daily, with several of the restaurants’ key spaces photographed again and again. With jungle-inspired wallpaper, graphic tiling and a solid 14k following on their own account, the plant-based eatery means business.
Instagram’s parent-company Facebook announced it made $9.1 billion in earnings this quarter on advertising, retaining its longstanding rule over digital advertising alongside with Google’s Alphabet ($26 billion). With Instagram absorbing competitor Snapchat’s story features and increasing the number of sponsored posts it shows this year (yeah, we noticed), it’s not a stretch to say that the social media giant sits at the center of food and beverage trends. But what happens to interior spaces when restaurants set out to be “Instagrammable”?
Update: On June 24, 2016, 52% of eligible voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. This article was published prior to the referendum announcement.
In 2003 George Steiner—a Paris-born, American, UK-based literary critic, philosopher and essayist—gave a lecture in Tilburg, a small Dutch city on the Belgian border. His talk, which he titled “The Idea of Europe,” made some waves in certain circles but, ultimately, wasn't widely discussed. Years later I found a copy of the transcript in Amsterdam’s Athenaeum, who had tucked it in the corner of a sunken room on a shelf devoted to "Brexit." I read it the following day while on a train to Brussels.
As I trundled across the Flemish hinterland Steiner’s words, delivered with judicious insight and a reassuring cautionary edge, served as a reminder of one irrevocable fact: that Europe is a continent “of linguistic, cultural, [and] social diversity;” a “mosaic” of communities that have never been united with the same scale and ambition as that of the European Union. But before the contemporary Euro-project, came European café culture.