Today was the first day that Long Islanders were allowed to eat at a restaurant post COVID-19. My family jumped at the chance to secure an outdoor table at one of our favorite local eateries. There were many noticeable changes and I wanted to outline some of my biggest takeaways just in case you were gearing up for a similar outing.
What It’s Like To Eat At A Restaurant Post COVID-19
First and foremost, I noticed that most restaurants in my town posted time limits right outside by the hostess stand. Depending on how many people were in your party determined just how long you could stay and enjoy your meal.
As a business owner, this makes sense because their seating is now limited considering everything has to be done outside. We are currently in Phase 2 in New York – which means that restaurants are opened but with limited capacity. Only outdoor seating which severely cuts down the number of customers any establishment can bring in at once.
You also must wear a mask while waiting in line or walking to your table. There are signs everywhere to make that very clear to everyone. However, you do NOT have to wear masks while sitting at your table.
This is not the case for staff – every staff member I saw had a mask on at all times. Gloves as well.
What’s Different During Phase 2?
As soon as you sit at your table, paper tablecloths are set down. We were told this will be standard moving forward. No more fabric.
We had regular utensils but they were wrapped in our napkins. Another thing the waiter pointed out to us – we will never see random utensils just laying out on tables moving forward. They will always be protected and wrapped up. Apparently, this is a new law that has been passed.
No more bread baskets. No more shared oil dipping. No more salt and pepper shakers.
We were each served our own individual plates filled with a selection of pre-filled bread. The waiter did not bring out a basket and fill our plates for us. This was all done inside the kitchen.
Each guest also received their own oil bowl. Nothing ever returned into the house and then back again to the customer.
I opted for an Italian restaurant and my family received paper menus that we were told to keep. The waiters would not take them from us after we placed our orders. They wanted us to know that it was policy to not reuse anything. So, we had to eat our meal with the menus by our side.
Drinks were not refilled. This isn’t that NEW. Most places offer new glasses. So, I wasn’t surprised about getting new cups.
Ketchup and cheese, once again, was individually served in plastic cups. Of course, we all could have shared a few, but that’s now how it works anymore. Everyone got one before we knew what was happening.
Going out with friends or business partners? This policy makes more sense. But parents with kids? We could have shared a few ketchup containers. I think we should have been more vocal, but we were just so excited about being outside.
How Did It Feel Dining Outside In A Crowd For The First Time In 100 Days?
When my family first sat down, I was just so excited to be out in public again. I was one of the people who took COVID-19 very seriously. I have an auto-immune disease and was crippled by the news and all the stories about how this virus affected those who had underlying conditions. I couldn’t go to Target without having a panic attack and so, I stopped trying.
Three months trapped at home watching the world just halt. I wasn’t… ok. I’m being honest with you. My business suffered. My state was set on fire. Everyone around me has a story to share.
This year was hard. It really was – as it has been for millions. I am no fool.
So, to sit again at a silly restaurant and hear Frankie Sinatra’s music with light chatter of strangers coming from all four corners of my table… was so beautiful. My mother and I actually started to cry! How silly, right? But it was just so… normal. And not NEW NORMAL. NOT POST-COVID 19 NORMAL. It was normal.
I know a lot of people down south have already had a chance to eat at restaurants and reclaim these small moments, but this was the first day of Phase 2 for New York and our restaurants. I thought about all the owners and the people who worked for them.
I thought about the people in the back, the suppliers, the families at home who were all counting on this working out… and it filled me whole.
So, yes, a silly piece of bread dipped in an individual-sized bowl of oil was exactly what I needed to happen today.
The Best Part About Eating Out Again
The best part of it all? Leaving a table of dishes and walking away from it all without having to worry about filling a dishwasher. Of course, that’s not what my children thought. I asked them what their favorite part was and they said …. not having to eat MOM’S COOKING for 101 days in a row. Touché.
- Tocolo Cantina In Westbury, NY Is The Mexican Restaurant I’ve Been Waiting For
- 5 Ways To Make Dining Out With Kids A Breeze: Easy Tips For The Family
- Top Places To Eat On Fire Island, Long Island – Best Fire Island Restaurants To Visit
- Adventureland Long Island Amusement Park: A Perfect Day Out With The Family
- Escape Room Long Island – Best Locations For Groups