NEW JERSEY — Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that indoor dining may resume on July 2, limited at first to 25% capacity. Until then, and even afterward, outdoor eating continues to be a big part of restaurant service.
Keeping this in mind, we asked restaurant owners and workers what they want the public to know after their first week re-opened for outdoor dining.
The biggest takeaway? They are still really struggling. Their new seating capacity is greatly limited. Despite increased costs (such as tents, umbrellas, outdoor heaters, disposable menus and increased sanitation) and having been closed to on-site dining for months, some are lowering their prices in an attempt to attract more customers.
Restaurants — especially “mom & pop” shops without big bankrolls behind them — need our support more than ever if they’re going to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
They’re a lot farther from the kitchen now, so be considerate and don't make the waitstaff run back and forth multiple times. If you need a few things, try to tell your waiter or waitress all of them at once.
“Be prepared to order like you’re ordering for takeout,” said one restaurant worker. “Know exactly what you want and order. Try not to change your mind too many times and try not to make too many special requests.”
Don’t complain about weather.
Too hot? Too cold? Too bad. There’s no thermostat for the great outdoors. And if it’s raining? Come back another time or get your food to go.
Don’t hog your spot.
With fewer tables to fill, restaurants need to flip them as often as possible. And call ahead if you’re going to be late for your reservation so they don’t have an empty table waiting too long.
Wear a mask around your server.
Of course, you can’t wear a mask while you’re eating, but wear it coming in and slip it on when your server comes by. They’re wearing a mask to protect you — you should extend the same courtesy to them.
Many workers have not earned a paycheck in months, so tips are more important than ever.
More on NJ Flavor:
Got a story you'd like to see on NJ Flavor? Email Jackie Lieberman at firstname.lastname@example.org