When it comes to restaurants, the pandemic has been a wrecking ball, taking out new and well-established businesses alike.
One survey in May by the Colorado Restaurant Association showed that an estimated 173,000 restaurant workers had been furloughed, and the Colorado Sun estimated that 400 restaurants would close permanently.
The statistics on restaurant survival are still being gathered. But one thing we can all agree on is how much we appreciate the establishments who have managed to keep serving us, even in the face of daunting restrictions and challenges. Restaurants promote community, local culture and just plain fun and relaxation.
That said, belligerent customers, complaining about everything from masks to menus are as prevalent as ever. What is the right way to treat our cherished workers in the COVID era?
We reached out to waiters in the metro area. They offered these etiquette suggestions:
Ask for what you need upfront. These days, servers are working inside the restaurant and out—sometimes even trekking to makeshift dining areas in parking lots to deliver your food. Try your best to ask for everything you need at once so that the server doesn’t have to run around more than is necessary.
Stop making mask jokes or sharing your political views on masks. Servers are required to wear masks. They’d rather not hear your opinion on the subject, humorous or not.
Wash your hands. Your server is wearing a mask to protect you. Return the favor by washing your hands to protect them as well.
Don’t linger: Enjoy your meal and drinks. But remember that restaurants are not serving at full capacity and need money to survive. They can’t afford for you to sit and chat for hours while sipping on a single iced tea. Leave promptly so that others can be seated.
Don’t dine out if you’re sick. (Does this really require an explanation?)
Keep your kids under control. At a time of social distancing, no one wants your kids getting too close to them, no matter how cute they are.
Be kind and tolerant. Waiters are learning new work processes during a difficult time. Be pleasant. Be patient. Remember you have three meals a day every day of your life. This is only one of them.
Tip generously. It’s not easy to wear a mask while working at top speed and trying to please diners. Leave a generous tip to show your appreciation.