Going through the pandemic has made me add criterion to the requirements I have for restaurants. My husband and I have been trying to support our favorite local restaurants because we want them to succeed. We have bought gift certificates and picked up, preferable curbside, at quite a few. Along the way, we have developed a checklist that restaurants must meet for us to return before all threats of the pandemic are gone.
First, of course, is the same great taste that we are accustomed to when we visit the restaurant. All of the restaurants we have visited have managed to maintain the quality of their food. I’m sure this challenge hasn’t been easy. They have to package the food to keep it hot or cold until we get home. The food also has to look good, so we want to eat it. Several places have inserted thank you notes or other messages. These notes weren’t necessary, but they left a warm place in our hearts.
Secondly, the restaurant has to continue the quality of friendly, efficient service which we are used to. Again, all the local restaurants have managed to do so, even with masks and gloves. Customers can hear the smile on someone’s face without actually seeing it.
Third, the restaurant has to take appropriate safety precautions for both their workers and customers. We have been to several places where the person at the window was not wearing a mask and/or gloves. One person, who was wearing a mask, said that her workplace didn’t provide masks. Employees have to get their own. If other workers in the facility don’t have on masks, even when the person at the window has on a mask, it is a caution light for us. In addition to supplying masks and gloves, employers need to educate their employees how to use them correctly. We have chosen not to return to several places because masks were not consistently in use by every employee. We choose to wear masks to protect the employees as we pick up; we expect the same from them.
There are other safety precautions that we appreciate. Several establishments have had contactless charging (with tip) available when we ordered online so we never touch a shared pen. Others haven’t had online charging available, but they brought out the credit slip with accompanying hand sanitizer for us to use. We appreciate when the server offers to put the order in the backseat, so contact is further minimized. We also look at the spacing of the cars; are we 6 feet away if we roll down the windows? Social distancing within the restaurant will be an extremely important factor when we decide to venture into a restaurant again.
I am eager to go out to eat again. It is our socialization, relaxation, and enjoyment. However, I am not willing to sacrifice safety for this privilege so, for a while longer at least, we will be taking out from the restaurants that meet the requirements of protecting their customers and employees.
Have I missed something that is vital to you when you consider the safety of a restaurant? If so, please share in the comment section below.
-Candace Ahlfinger is a lover of travel, adventure, and good food and fun! Traveling is a great experience that enriches her life, and she loves to go anywhere and everywhere with her wonderful husband or her children and grandchildren. Whether it’s trying a new local restaurant or sharing a long-time favorite, she loves giving the readers of Ellis DownHome new places to try!u