Since it started in June, more than 10,000 restaurants have taken to the streets and sidewalks to serve New Yorkers once again...and we're here for it.
Outdoor dining has been a blessing not just for restaurants needing to resume business but for diners in need of a night out with food they didn’t cook themselves. After all those months of being inside, it's become a time to recharge ourselves and enjoy life's simple pleasures.
That being said, there's a steep learning curve when it comes to this new outdoor dining culture — we have a lot of questions, thoughts and feelings that arise when we decide to venture out to restaurants these days.
1. “We should do this all the time!”
It turns out that outdoor dining is actually kind of wonderful, especially when the weather is just right. Getting to take in the ambiance of our city with friends and fantastic food and drink is something we didn’t know we really needed.
2. “Am I’m going to get hit?”
Then again, some outdoor dining spots are placed on or near a street with cars and bicycles. What should be a relaxing experience can quickly become a stressful one if the street is too busy.
3. “These poor waiters.”
Restaurant staff didn’t sign up for an outdoor job, where they have to brave the heat (and now cold) to serve eager diners ready for things to return to normal. Every one of them has to work with a mask on while diners get to chomp away mask-free.
4. “Would it be weird if I had a blanket?”
Dining outdoors in the evenings has been a bit chilly as of late. We never thought we’d need a blanket at a restaurant, but here we are.
5.“It feels so weird not wearing a mask right now.”
After drinks are served at the table, it still feels strange to take off our masks even though we have to. Usually, there’s one party member brave enough to start the de-masking first and then we all follow suit. Seeing our friends’ faces in full is great but weird now, and we’re still confused about whether we should wear our masks each time the waiter or waitress comes to our tables.
6. “Oh shit, my mask!”
And yet, we’ve all done it: gotten up to go to the restroom and walked away from the table without our masks on. Somehow, dining out returns us to our Before Times state of mind and we forget for a second we’re in a world where wearing a mask in public is a must.
7. “Why and how is there a table of 15 people dining together?!”
Still, seeing a large group of people grouped together is cause for alarm these days. We’ve been told not to gather for so long that when we see this it feels wrong and dangerous. It’s a bit shocking!
8. “The people next to us are too close!”
The same thing happens when we’re seated less than six feet away from the next party. Even if we’re outside, some of us are nervous to get closer to other people.
9. “Was this place always this busy indoors and I never knew?”
It seems like most places we dine out at nowadays are packed to the brim, but it’s unclear if it’s because they’ve always been popular or if it’s because more people are turning out. It’s almost striking how many people can be at one restaurant.
10. “Uh oh, is that rain?”
Going out to eat has never really depended on the weather until now. Many restaurants this summer have had to close for the day due to rain and many of us have had to cancel our plans and reservations because of it. Luckily, indoor dining returns on September 30 at 25 percent capacity, so this won’t be a problem for much longer.
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