No one wants a repeat of 2020, but a diner can find silver linings in some of the many restaurant changes resulting from the pandemic. Here are six shifts that deserve to be permanent:
Cocktails to take away: Bartenders made life more worth living – and takeout bags more splashy – by pouring their craft into plastic bags, apothecary glass bottles and other flasks. Added value: instead of throwing the containers in the trash, some customers reuse them as jars of condiments or salad dressings.
Careful hygiene: Hand sanitizer on the host stand and the table is the new flowers. Let’s hold on to reminders to stay clean. Some establishments even make fancy disinfectants by offering the product in Cologne spritzers. Like yesterday’s matchbooks, they make a good branding image.
Take it everywhere: Not just Chinese and pizza, like before, but also upscale cuisine, often personalized with handwritten notes, free candy, even suggested playlists – the kind of fillips you might get when eating in. a dining room. Chefs who have tested their products for endurance have learned what travels well and what doesn’t. Win everywhere – and a world with more choice.
Outdoor dining all year round: Restaurant owners feared the cold but responded to the wishes of diners with greenhouses, tents, igloos, yurts, blankets, fireplaces and other heaters. Customers have learned to dress for the elements – it’s all about layering, isn’t it? – and came to enjoy the sense of community and shared adventure. Please bring back BYOB – Bring your own blanket.
Well-spaced tables: Pools of space between diners may not be ideal for restaurant outcomes, but patrons appreciate the wiggle room and feeling of privacy. Diners should be aware that security measures will likely affect menu prices. Expect to pay more for meals. Also, say goodbye to eavesdropping. Then again, food in America has been too cheap for too long, and really, we shouldn’t be acting like Gladys Kravitz.
The respect: Customers showed it – and restaurateurs appreciated it – like never before. In a sentiment shared by many of his peers, Chef Brendan L’Etoile of the new Café Colline in Arlington, Virginia said, “I hope the appreciation for the work we do continues.” When I think of first responders, restaurant workers come close to the doctors, nurses and others who care for our well-being.
Design by Christian Font. Artistic direction by Clare Ramirez.