The restaurant industry has changed
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way we live in every area of our lives, and going out to eat is no exception. Before, we had no problem squeezing past crowded tables or selecting from the salad bar; now, we wear masks to protect ourselves and others and sit at widely-spaced tables. Some of the biggest changes, however, have occurred within the role of your restaurant wait staff. They’re most likely serving fewer people, as many restaurants are only open at reduced capacity; they spend their entire shift in a mask, and social distancing guidelines mean less interaction with customers. That said, there are still several things about you that your restaurant wait staff takes note of before you’ve even ordered.
How you’re wearing your mask
By now, we all know that wearing a mask is the number one thing we can do to protect ourselves and others, but some people are still reluctant to do it properly – or at all. “When you’re in the service industry you’re always going to have to sway with people’s moods and personalities, but this is amplified when a situation like COVID presents itself,” says barista, Jamie Hickey. “The people that refuse to wear a mask, or put it halfway on just to be allowed in the restaurant are the most difficult to deal with. They always get an attitude with us if we ask them to put it on or to adjust it.”
It’s important that your mask covers both your nose and mouth. Wearing it improperly gives a bad impression to the wait staff, many of whom are struggling financially due to reduced hours, and some customers are adding to the problem. “I hate to say it, but the people that feel like they shouldn’t wear a mask definitely don’t tip as well as the people who have no problem wearing one,” Hickey says. “But a lot of people are understanding and actually give larger tips, which is greatly appreciated.” These are tough times for everyone, and if you’re able to support your local businesses you definitely should. Just remember to wear your mask in the areas where you are asked to.
If you’re following social distancing guidelines
It’s important to socially distance as much as possible – during the pandemic, it’s a sign of respect, like wearing your mask. Many restaurants have tables spaced out in accordance with government guidelines. To reduce contact, some restaurants have also switched from in-person to online ordering, where you scan a QR code with your phone and select and pay from a digital menu. Your waiter still wants to make you feel comfortable, though, and of course, they’ll still serve your drinks and meals.
“The QR codes do make things move along faster, but it takes away the human side of it which has its pros and cons. They do make the process more streamlined, and we are a little safer with the social distancing aspect,” says Hickey. But there are times when you need to talk to your waiter, whether to discuss an allergy or ask for a substitution, and your waiter may be missing that interaction as well. “The cons are you can’t be personable, which is a shame because I like to talk to different people and hear about their lives,” Hickey adds. You can talk to your waiter through your mask, but here are the things you shouldn’t do at re-opened restaurants.