Even though we’ve been enjoying outdoor dining in NYC since June, it’s good to be reminded of proper etiquette.
Here’s how to be a good sidewalk eater and drinker and keep yourself, your friends and the waitstaff healthy and happy:
More than 9,000 restaurants are open and serving.
Observe social distancing rules.
The restaurant, cafe or bar has set the tables, counters and chairs to comply with the rules, so don’t move anything closer together.
Wear a facemask.
Keep covered when seated, when you aren’t drinking or eating, and especially when ordering from the waitstaff.
Be aware of how much space is next to you and the next party.
Order everything you need at one time
Your server has to go inside and sometimes downstairs to get what you need. Don’t make them take more than one trip.
It’s also a good idea to check the menu online before first, so you can order the moment you are seated.
Order. Eat. Leave.
There is limited seating, so don’t hang out, especially if you see people waiting to be seated. If you want to hang out, order more food and drink.
Don’t hog the table.
Be mindful and courteous and help restaurants turn those tables. Don’t sit there leisurely reading your newspaper or phone.
New table manners.
Pass dishes to the person on your right.
Pass the salt and pepper together.
Used silverware should never touch the table; rather, they should rest on your plate.
Place your napkin on your chair if you leave the table during a meal.
Practice good hand hygiene.
Use hand sanitizer or wipes before and after eating.
Bathrooms are likely to be closed for sanitary reasons, even to patrons, so go before you go out. If you think you’ll need to go potty while you are out, call the restaurant first to find out if their facilities are open, and if not, you might want to go elsewhere.
Tip well, at least 20%.
Remember that food service workers are essential workers putting their own health at risk for a paycheck, so that you can enjoy eating out almost like normal.
They suffered three months without a paycheck during lockdown. If you can afford to eat out, you can afford to tip well. They need the tips.
Your server probably does not have health insurance, and they’re probably more nervous about having to work during a pandemic than you are about eating out during a pandemic.
So tip more than you would have pre-Covid-19. Or, think of eating out under Phase Two as a holiday, and tip the same generous way you would for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
photo courtesy Fifth Avenue Assn.
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