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Luckily, many of our favorite restaurants have opened back up, and some even offer dine-in services. While a lot of controversy surrounds COVID-19, one thing we all can agree on is that we love to eat! And supporting local businesses is important. There are some things that can help make eating out a little safer for both employees and customers. We’ve compiled a list of suggestions for safe eating out practices, should you choose to go for it.
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Know Before You Go
Reach out to the restaurant beforehand, to get an idea of their guidelines. Do they require masks when people are waiting for food? Is there an occupancy limit? Are reservations now required when they formerly weren’t? It can make things go a little smoother to know this stuff ahead of time, while also helping you decide if this is somewhere that the family wants to go.
Change Up Eating Times
Opt to eat at a more obscure time. Maybe the local pizza joint is hopping at about 6 PM. Aim to be out of there by 5 PM, or just go for a late dinner. Avoiding crowds can mean fewer weight times, and less exposure. Maybe then you eating out tonight isn’t on the weekend. Maybe it’s a Thursday.
Wear a Mask
Masks have caused their fair share of debate, but wearing one during the times you’re not putting food in your mouth, especially if you’re going to the restroom, or standing in a waiting area, the mask could offer a bit of a shield for the time being. A quick Google search will deliver a load of hilarious masks with openings for straws and food. We can’t guarantee the efficacy of this.
Keep Hand Sanitizer and Wipes with You
Likely by now most people carry around a bottle of hand sanitizer, or sanitizing wipes. Whenever you use the restaurant pen to sign the bill or touch a doorknob, a little dab of cleanser can be a logical step. However, wash your hands if you can. If it makes you feel more comfortable, and even though restaurants have upped their cleaning game, you could give the table a little wipe down as well.
Bask in the Sun While Dining
Eating outside is not only enjoyable, but it also allows folks to space out more, while breathing fresh air. Ask your server if this is an option, and be sure to sit under an umbrella so you don’t get toasted. Do a little research before going out, to find out which places have particularly awesome outdoor seating. Bonus – dogs can often dine with you outside.
Venture to a Food Truck Park
Food truck parks combine the beauty of outdoor eating with variety. So this is definitely a win. Many cities like Atlanta and Bend have staple spots for great artisan eats via food trucks. Most meals come in disposable or compostable packaging so it’s a sanitary and environmental win.
Get Creative with "Dining Out"
That brings us to our next point, if you really love a restaurant but don’t feel great about the current set up, just do takeout! People have come up with innovative ways to enjoy a meal out while not entering the actual restaurant. For example, set up a fold-out table and chairs in the parking lot where there aren’t a lot of cars, and eat the meal while it’s hot!
Scout Out Restaurant Take and Bake Items
Several hotspot bakeries in Atlanta, and likely in other trendy cities, have take and bake options for some of their incredible pastries. Good Karma coffee café in Avondale Estates has the best gluten-free cinnamon rolls, so customers can grab some and take them home to freshly prepared in their own oven. And you may never go back to already prepared ones because these are going to make your house smell so good.
See If the Restaurant Does Employee Health Checks
You’ve probably already been somewhere that requires you to have your temperature checked before entering. Many businesses check their employees every day, by assessing if they have a fever or symptoms before coming in contact with food and guests. It’s not unreasonable to call and ask your favorite restaurant if they are checking their employees daily.
Keep the Joy in Eating Out
Last but not least, despite the major changes, it’s still important to try and have fun. Fun–isn’t that why we go out to eat in the first place? A lot of these tasks are simple, so don’t overwhelm yourself by being in the dumps. Hopefully, we can all let our guards down in the future, but protect yourself and go enjoy that sushi dinner.