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Please be nice when you’re eating out

Think of businesses as butterflies, each one is going through a different metamorphosis through the NYS reopenings. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

I know I’m speaking to the choir and you are all polite to the person who has sat you at your table, mixed your drink, brought you a beverage, taken your order, filled your water glass, cleaned up your table, and prepared your meal. It doesn’t even cover the people behind the scene you never see cleaning up after the people cleaning up after you. Because it’s unthinkable to be otherwise, right? Why do I still hear people griping about restaurants?

The reason I eat out is because I don’t want to cook. That is the bottom line. It’s too hot or I’m too lazy. Yes, sometimes I go out to celebrate, but usually, it’s because I can’t stand any more of my own cooking.

I find it difficult to believe how many people gripe about eating in restaurants. We all just went through the same restrictions. (If you are from out of state, it’s a quick Google search. Stage 3 = 50% capacity inside with strict social distancing guidelines.) When I think about the amount of out of the box thinking to survive a pandemic, I look to teachers and restaurant owners. Owners who never provided take-out had to shift gears during Stage One. During Stage Two restaurants had to figure out how to provide outdoor seating even if they never had in the past. Restaurant owners have had to endure structural and reorganizational plans time and again in order to put food on other people’s tables. It’s heroic, really. Some people had to shutter their doors. (I’m not being sarcastic, but please take a moment to think about people who have lost their businesses, their livelihoods during this time. Take a second to think about those who were unable to adapt their businesses to this current normal.)

I understand people pay to go out to eat and also pay for the service. I also understand sometimes the food isn’t what you ordered, or it took a long time. I understand sometimes the service wasn’t great or you thought someone was rude. Here is the wrinkle. When you pay for your meal there isn’t a line item on the menu that includes the right to complain endlessly. ”ll just wait here while you look. Keep looking. No, the small print at the bottom of the menu covers food allergies. See. There isn’t one. It is not part of the service so stop acting like it is. I’m not saying you shouldn’t speak up. Owners of businesses want their customers to be happy. They want to improve. It’s called the suggestion box.

Please be patient with your server, cook, chef, host/hostess, barista and all others. Please treat them like they just came out of quarantine and are living through a pandemic. Please understand your favorite place is not operating like it used to and there is no “going back” to the old ways. Not yet. Good grief. With or without Stage 3 of the New York State reopening plan, it really should not have to be said. But, it still does. Treat people like you want to be treated.

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