Service of Eating Out During a Pandemic

July 9th, 2020

Categories: Bicycles, New York City, Pandemic, Restaurant

Living alone during a pandemic has its benefits and drawbacks. You get to see what you want on TV and watch until the wee hours and there’s only yourself to blame if you don’t like what’s for dinner.

However if you live in NYC and have a yen to meet a friend at a restaurant and you practice social distancing, you’ll hit a snag. The tables are understandably small [see the photo above] so that restaurants can squeeze in as many as possible in the allotted tiny sidewalk or street spaces. As a meal involves speaking, eating and unprotected mouths and noses, being only two feet from another person you don’t live with is risky. Yet you can’t blame the restaurants.

I don’t mind eating alone and would feel safer doing so these days rather than with a pal although in July’s heat and humidity I’m not rarin’ to bake while I eat. I also think that a restaurant would much prefer to ring up two meals in these times of slim pickings so I’ll leave tables to couples.

And how comfortable are we in NYC’s restaurant retrofits? Desperate measures make for unusual placements of some outdoor eating arrangements. I wouldn’t anticipate a relaxing break in this shelter [photos right and below] with Second Avenue traffic and vehicle exhaust passing on one side and all manner of two-wheeled vehicles on the other. But as they say across the pond and I often hear on Call the Midwife, “needs must.”

Have you eaten at a restaurant alone or with a friend, spouse, companion or business contact indoors or out during the pandemic? Do you plan to soon?

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18 Responses to “Service of Eating Out During a Pandemic”

  1. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    I had lunch with a friend a few weeks ago. We ate outside and luckily the weather was perfect. The tables were more than six feet apart. The waitress was so nice and it was really good to eat something I didn’t cook. I’d absolutely do it again but not inside only outside! Sunshine on my face and someone to talk to while sharing a meal was fabulous!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Helen,

    Sounds amazing and welcome.

    Give me a bigger table and a nice summer day–and maybe even a pleasant environment–and I’ll reconsider!

  3. ASK Said:

    I have eaten out twice for lunch, each time with a good friend I hadn’t seen in months: once at a restaurant on Broadway & 55th St., another at a restaurant along the Hudson River under a metal canopy. The latter had people sitting at a makeshift bar waiting for tables. We had to make a reservation, before the lockdown, they were not necessary, but people are really weary of staying home and all had to wear masks to be seated. At the first restaurant, the lack of traffic down Broadway was astonishing. I have also ridden buses and subways, always wearing a mask and surgical gloves. The gloves are discarded when I arrive home.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    Traffic on the East Side in midtown at least is back to normal making dining less appealing. One friend said jams happen because of restaurants intruding on space formerly used by cars. What is alarming to me is that there doesn’t seem as though there is anyone in charge of a master plan.

    Were you 6 feet away from your good friend at the table? Did you stop talking when your masks were off?

  5. ASK Said:

    No, neither friend was 6-feet away, but one friend had recently been tested and was negative for exposure as was I when I was tested 10 days ago. The other friend is 87, and has not left her apartment since lockdown. And no we did not stop talking when we took our masks off…

  6. EAM Said:

    Jeanne,
    I had gone out for lunch on an outdoor patio at a country club to which my Mom belongs. The tables were well spaced out but not as many people were in attendance as usual when it’s often packed. The wait staff all wore masks and paper menus were used. I felt comfortable but if I were inside, I still might feel skiddish.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    ASK,

    I admire your adventuresome spirit and that of your friends as well as the precautions you’ve taken. Excellent!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    EAM,

    The unpopulated country club patio sounds like a pretty, safe and welcome place to dine!

    In a news conference yesterday–July 8–Gov. Cuomo said that upstate NY malls would open this Friday if they had installed a special/approved filter on their AC [HVAC] systems. I wish that restaurants, planes, trains, buses, department and grocery stores could all install this filter–or ones made of the same elements that capture droplets so that the virus-laden ones don’t return to the atmosphere. Maybe someday.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    I don’t live in the City, and if I did, would probably have treated myself to an outdoors restaurant, since that’s what I enjoy most. I’m not so keen about this activity in my area. However, for Fathers Day, we (3) ordered a meal at a favorite Chinese restaurant and enjoyed same at an al fresco picnic table with no one in view.

    This will pass. We can’t stay holed up forever!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    There’s one bistro in the East 80s where I didn’t mind eating outdoors but I don’t usually like to do so in NYC and never in high humidity and heat. I’ve not given why much thought–perhaps it’s because unless a restaurant is on a charming street there’s not much to look at. Put me outdoors in Paris, Brussels, Rome or Venice and I’m in heaven. Go figure. Maybe it’s because I’m so happy to be there [though I love NYC too].

    And until we know that the filtering systems in restaurants meet a certain standard, you won’t soon see me eating indoors once the ban is lifted. Furthermore, there must be a reason that Gov. Cuomo withdrew eating indoors from the phase the city has otherwise met.

    Takeout at a picnic table would work for me.

  11. Martin Johnson Said:

    Martin on Facebook: We do not eat out though it it is permissible in our State, and the county, but not worth the risk. We will wait until a viable vaccine is available. Stay well and alive. Do not take risks or be cocky. The penalty is not worth it. Let’s make the time on this planet work well for us and do not tempt fate.

  12. Jackie Morel Said:

    Jackie on Facebook: Miss eating out but don’t miss it enough to jeopardize my family’s health. Been supporting local restaurants with curb side pick up and contactless delivery. Luckily, I’m a pretty good cook😷👩🍳🍷

  13. Ginny Pulos Said:

    Ginny on Facebook: George and I ate at a restaurant outdoors. Tables were more than six feet apart. There was one masked waiter for each grouping. When he handed us menus we cleaned them first with Clorox wipes. Seating wasn’t in the street. Felt so appreciative of the heat cooking, not my own. We wore masks while we ordered, too.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martin,

    You are what a friend called “Covid Cautious” as am I. If I lived in a house with picnic or other large tables with plenty of room to social distance I would consider having friends over outdoors. I might also visit a friend with such a setup if I could drive by car. A NYC friend who won’t go to a restaurant yet met a friend for a picnic in Central Park. But for me it’s too soon for a restaurant meal with friends.

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Jackie,

    I’m with you. I haven’t ordered out much either. Contactless delivery sounds great–does the delivery person leave a package in your car or on your porch? In many apartment buildings like mine delivery people are forbidden upstairs. They leave takeout in the lobby and door staff calls a tenant to pick up their order.

  16. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Ginny,

    Interesting they didn’t use paper menus. You were smart to come prepared with disinfectant wipes. I don’t think about the wonderful feeling of having someone else do all the work as there’s no point right now but believe me, I will celebrate once I feel comfortable enjoying a restaurant meal.

  17. Ginny Pulos Said:

    Ginny on Facebook: This will not be a frequent happening. It just eases the sense of claustrophobia.

  18. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Ginny,

    I suspect if I lived with someone and knew of a spot at which I felt comfortable/safe, I’d enjoy a treat like you and George. I would probably pick an off time to avoid crowds. Enjoy!

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