More than 40 counties across California are now allowing restaurants to reopen their dining rooms, including in Sacramento starting this past Friday.
But the dining experience will be much different than it was before COVID-19 for customers and restaurant workers. There are a host of new guidelines from the state, and restaurants are putting in safety measures themselves.
At the end of the day, restaurant workers say there’s only so much they can control.
“You open the lid, you take it off, and you kind of deal with whatever you get, right?” said Marvin Maldonado, owner of Federalist Public House in Midtown. “There are going to be bad actors and there are going to be good actors, and you just try to treat everybody with the same grace that you hope they treat you with.”
So what can you do to be responsible while dining out? Here are some tips from owners and servers about how to make the experience as safe as possible, and some things you can expect while eating out.
Keeping Your Distance
“Serving used to be just about serving and bringing food and setting it down, and now it’s ‘We’re gonna set it here, you can slide it to the center.’ If you can take your dirty dishes and slide it to the edge, we don’t have to reach over you … Our staff don’t want to touch anybody. They really don’t.”
“I’m not gonna touch the glass. In the past you pour the wine and you’re standing close to them and you’re talking and interacting. Now it’s going to be pouring the wine and taking your couple steps back, and then talking to people.”
— Amitai Cohen, tasting room attendant at Bailarin Cellars
“People that are comfortable are starting to come out, but we’re also trying to make sure we’re being smart. If they feel they need to be masked, if they feel they’ve been overexposed and they feel comfortable masking then they should mask. If they don’t feel comfortable masking, then by all means you need to respect people’s boundaries.”
— Chris Keeton, head brewer at Alaro Craft Brewery
“Please wear your mask when you’re in line and at the counter or when you’re interacting with staff … while you’re sitting at the table, put your mask away. Put it in your pocket, hang out, have a good time. We’re not even gonna bug you. We really don’t want that. We really want the sense of people just to sit here and relax and let the outside world fade away for a bit.”
Small Groups Only
“We’re constantly monitoring by not letting a lot of people into the premises … We have security, especially because we have a bar, and in this area there’s a lot of people that come from other restaurants, other places they’ve been drinking. As of now we haven’t encountered any situations, but we’re trusting on the good faith of people.”
— Oscar Escobar, manager of Midtown’s Cantina Alley
“It's up to the customers coming in. If they come in with their neighbors and they want to sit down, that is actually their decision and we can’t discriminate against that. If they’re choosing to do that, that’s their thing. You have to take somebody’s word … We’re not having any big parties.”
— Christopher Fairman, manager at The Shack
“I think the main part is just not to come in such big groups, to really limit yourself to smaller groups of going out. To make sure your group that’s coming, that you guys have a discussion with each other and make sure you’re all on the same page, that somebody isn’t just going out and doing everything and somebody is staying home all the time.”
“I would like for people to be understanding, and patient, because we’re all trying to figure it out. Everybody wants to get out and get back to being normal, and we want to help with that. But there’s new rules and we’ve got to figure that out.”
— Tundé Blair, host at The Golden Bear
“We had three different times that we had to adjust our business before the quarantine, and then during the quarantine a lot of us have had to re-figure out how to do our business … We’ve been doing this for six years, but it felt like I was opening again for the very first time.”
CapRadio provides a trusted source of news because of you. As a nonprofit organization, donations from people like you sustain the journalism that allows us to discover stories that are important to our audience. If you believe in what we do and support our mission, please donate today.