We are all eager to go back to dining out at our favorite restaurants. The restaurants’ staffs are just as eager to have us back, so they can continue earning their salaries (plus tips – don’t forget tips!).
But it’s clearly not a simple thing to do. I’ve been asked what I look for in a restaurant now, so here are some of my positive points for those who are dining out. The bottom line is that you should go out to eat only if you feel comfortable doing it to begin with. If you do, then keep these things in mind:
- It’s getting warmer outside (OK, downright hot), so dining outside may not be your first choice, but if you can sit under fans, outdoor seating is still the best location now.
- Smaller groups are better. Some restaurants won’t seat large parties, because social distancing just isn’t an option at that point.
- If there’s a line starting just inside the door, step back outside to give both yourself and those folks some distance.
- Make sure there are masks on everyone. That includes restaurant employees, and fellow diners as they are seated at tables and then when they exit after eating.
- Try to sit at a table where there is little traffic from other customers. Avoid areas such as right inside the front door or along the path to the restrooms. Ask to be moved if you don’t feel comfortable.
- Look for restroom restrictions, if the restrooms are large. Both stalls and sinks should be at half capacity and roped off to ensure this. Smaller restrooms should be cleaned frequently all night long. All restrooms should be cleaned frequently, frankly.
- Utensils should be wrapped in napkins, and ideally changed between courses, if possible.
- Menus should be disposable and thrown away when you are finished with them to prevent multiple hands from using them.
- Servers should have gloves on, but if that’s not the case, at least they should be seen using sanitizer before handling things on your table. And after.
- When serving drinks, you should be asked to take your own drink off the tray, or give the server permission to do it for you.
- When paying with a credit card (preferable to cash, which is dirty on a normal day), it’s preferable to not have to use a pen/stylus to sign your name.