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How To Behave in a Restaurant During COVID

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How To Behave in a Restaurant During COVID

Congratulations! After spending weeks and weeks in a quarantine lockdown, some restaurants are reopening so you can finally go out and have someone cook your meal, serve it to you, and then clean up when you’re done. You might have to dine outside or maybe the restaurant won’t be at full capacity, but you can go (Full disclosure: restaurants in some states were never disrupted because it’s easier to put on a pair of blinders and pretend that everything is alright than it is to enact change for the safety of that state’s citizens.)! Those in the restaurant industry are ready to welcome customers back with open arms and a socially distant hug, but there are a few things that you as customers can do make sure your dining experience is as good as it can possibly be. Here’s how to behave in a restaurant during COVID.

Don’t assume it’s business as usual: The hours may have changed or maybe they no longer take reservations, and that two-for-one happy hour might be a thing of the past because restaurants are struggling to get by right now. Call ahead so you know what you’re in for.

Accept their rules and follow them: If the restaurant requires you to wear mask, wear it. People often forget that restaurants are private property meaning they get to make and enforce their own policies. If your favorite cafe is asking you to wear a mask when you enter and you don’t want to wear one, find someplace else to eat. And please don’t complain to your overworked server about how ridiculous you think one of the rules is. They don’t make the rules, they just work there and you don’t need to tell your server you don’t like seeing them wear a mask. They already know that and they hate it too.

Don’t complain about the menu: Yes, it might be more limited now and that’s because the restaurant has shorter hours to serve, fewer customers to sell to, and less kitchen staff to cook. If one of your favorite items has been removed, don’t take it personally. No manager decided to take the lobster roll off the menu just to piss you off, they did it because it’s expensive and if not enough people order it, it goes to waste. Try something else and maybe it will become your new favorite.

Ask for everything you need at the same time: If your server has to make five different trips to your table for freshly ground pepper, and then extra napkins, and then mayo and then another glass of tea and then even more mayo, what that means is you might (should) feel an obligation to pull your mask back up every time they approach your table. Consolidate your requests so you can enjoy your meal in peace.

Keep it small: Most restaurants have restrictions about how many people can occupy the premises so expecting a table for ten people is pretty unlikely. Moving tables closer together is also not an option because of social distancing. If you’re going out to eat, make it intimate with just a party of two or three. Besides, you’ll probably get better service than you would if you dragged in nine other people who all want separate checks.

Be patient: Waiting tables is like riding a bike, but there’s a good chance your server has been sitting on the couch watching Netflix for the last few months and they might be a little bit rusty. If you think they’re taking too long to bring your extra shredded cheese, take a deep breath and know it’s on the way. Patience is a virtue, but going out to dinner during a pandemic is a privilege.

Be grateful: Every server who is working right now is doing their absolute best to give you the dining experience you have been craving. If you let them know how much you appreciate them being at work, that server is going to be even more eager to please you. Being an inconsiderate, complaining, ingrate doesn’t exactly encourage someone to be nice to you and it’s literally a server’s job to be nice. The nicer you are, the easier it is for the server and the easier it is for the server, the better your experience will be. It’s a “you scratch their back and they’ll scratch yours” kinda thing, except with no touching because, you know, COVID.

And that my friends how to behave in a restaurant during COVID!

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Bitchy Waiter

Bitchy Waiter

Darron Cardosa is a writer, actor, singer, and waiter. He lives and and works in New York City and enjoys "The Brady Bunch," "The Facts of Life" and cocktails almost as much as he hates your baby.


  1. T. Andrews
    July 2, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Great advice! Servers would also appreciate extra generous gratuities during this time. They are seeing less customers and their income has been seriously adversely affected.

    • Roger
      July 2, 2020 at 5:48 pm

      In other words: You wanted to go out to eat, and the person who is at your beck and call has risked their life to be there for you. Tip them well or you’re a d!ck.

  2. Robin Stutsman
    September 22, 2020 at 2:50 am

    Stop being a dick to employees. That’s all. They don’t make the rules, they are just doing what they are told. You don’t like it, don’t go there. Duh. You feel the need to complain, take it up with corporate or at the very least, ask for a manager. Don’t sit there and take it out on a person who is just trying to get by and risking a lot to serve your dumb ass.