Dining out is going to be different in the immediate future, and we wine drinkers are going to need to make some accommodations in order to help our favorite restaurants survive.
Here are three things likely to happen, and what we can do to help…
- Seating will be limited.
You know those “maximum occupancy” signs that restaurants are required to display? They are based on safety, the number limited so all guests can escape safely in case of an emergency such as a fire. But that number is going to go down, at least for a while, and that means the opportunity for restaurants to generate revenue is going to be impacted.
Some restaurants are going to be extending their hours in order to accommodate as many guests as possible. As an example, a restaurant that formerly operated from 5 to 10 p.m. may stretch those hours to 4 to 11. They may even offer “early bird” and “late bird” specials during the first and last hours of operation as they adopt more of a European model of late-night dining.
What we can do: Embrace those new hours, and if at all possible, visit during the hours that would not be considered “prime time.” Don’t rush your meal, but also don’t dilly-dally. It will be more important than ever for restaurants to be able to “turn over” tables quickly and efficiently. (Idea: Take your dessert to go.)
- Menus may be disposable.
Because germs can lurk on an array of surfaces, including restaurant menus, some may opt to print menus on a daily basis rather than clean permanent menus after every use.
What we can do: Offer to share a paper menu with the person sitting next to you to help keep costs down for the restaurant. Every penny will help.
- Service will be different.
Expect servers and other staff members to wear masks and gloves as they bring you water, take your order, serve your food and open your bottle of wine.
What we can do: Designate one person at your table to don a glove of their own and be in charge of topping up the glasses around the table. This will eliminate “multiple touches” on the bottle and probably provide for a better distribution of the wine — so the folks around the table get exactly the amount they wish; no more, no less.
Better still, at restaurants where it is allowed, bring your own bottle, as well as your own corkscrew. All the restaurant will need to provide is the glassware.