COVID Chronicles: Customer Considerations for Dining Out Again

COVID Chronicles: Customer Considerations for Dining Out Again

COVID Chronicles: Customer Considerations for Dining Out Again banner

JWU professors, like students, are experiencing the “new normal” at home during the global pandemic, COVID-19. In this series, we’ll explore how they are navigating their day-to-day, both inside and outside the online classroom, and their observations of the world. Read more here.

For many of us, the desire to dine in the dining room of our favorite restaurant has been a missing piece for some time now. Though many of our favorite restaurants adapted rather quickly to recent changes thrust upon them in the era of COVID-19 by offering takeout and curbside options, many others simply chose to wait out the storm and close. Regardless, your favorite restaurants need you and your business, but they will need your patience and compassion also.

Timing, tipping, and thankfulness

If you have not picked up (or received delivery) from your favorite neighborhood restaurants already, please do so; many are open and waiting for you. When they are able to open their doors to welcome you into their dining rooms again, please do not hesitate to go, or if you are concerned about being out, continue to or even increase your take-out ordering, if you can. Just like you rely on your favorite restaurants to serve you what you like, they too depend on you to be placing orders, if you can.

Of course, many people may not be able to visit their favorites immediately due to their own lost wages or jobs, but when you are able to do so, they will welcome you back. When it is time for you and your family to visit, expect to see some of the following changes your restaurant has needed to adhere to (or been ordered to change) to keep themselves, you, and the other guests safe.

1. Consider reduced guest capacity and timing

By all means dine out, but remember if you always choose a popular day and time, the restaurant may not be able to seat you immediately. Accept long wait times and limited seating (social distancing) to be the norm for some time.

Instead, consider dining out at the former, non-traditional times between breakfast and lunch (yes, brunch is popular on the weekend but not typically during Monday through Thursday), between lunch and dinner or even a later evening meal, depending on operating times. Finally, regardless of when you dine out, concentrate your time while being courteous to other guests waiting; in other words, enjoy your experience but don’t linger, take your conversations outside or elsewhere so others may also enjoy their meal which they are waiting for.

2. Be courteous and patient

Everyone is doing their best and trying to either work hard to deliver quality service or enjoy their evening, but none of us know how best to handle these new situations and restrictions. A well-oiled machine of a functioning restaurant two months ago, maybe now with a new manager, new employees, and/or new policies, may be slower since no one has had time to perfect yet. And please, above all, tip your server. I really shouldn’t need to say this (but have seen it), even with take-out, guests not tipping staff/establishments are barely able to stay open, so tip and tip larger than you normally would have if you can afford to do so.

3. Enjoy the experience but realize it’s different

Remember why you really wanted to go out to eat weeks ago, regardless if timing is off or the dish you always ordered has been adjusted slightly (due to lack of product/deliveries), venture to try the house special or a server recommendation. If you are able, order an appetizer or dessert; frankly, they make your meal experience better and help the restaurant. Consider ordering alcoholic beverages like a bottle of wine, if applicable; again this will enhance your dining experience and help the restaurant with sales. Simple things like condiments and oil that used to be on your table have probably been removed and will need to be brought to you upon request. Ask for what you want or need, but remember restaurants discard open items brought to the table, so only request what you will likely use.

Finally, remember restaurant operators are going to need to do some creative planning and organizing to operate with new social distancing and other restrictions in place. Your vision of your favorite experience may never be there again, but if you give them the opportunity to welcome and serve you, it can allow for newly created memories for you and your family. When they are allowed to reopen or expand operations, dine out at your local restaurants as often as you can while keeping yourself safe, but be open for a new experience and maybe, just be thankful to be enjoying a meal outside of your house once again.

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