It’s an exciting time for the SouthCoast as restaurants begin to set up their patios for outdoor dining. Around town, you can feel the buzz of curiosity as you see more and more restaurants create brand-new outdoor dining areas, with tables six feet apart and servers ready to go with masks at the ready.

I empathize with these restaurant workers as I have worked in the restaurant business for 10 years. An average day brings stress, but I can’t imagine the stress they must be experiencing as they prepare to navigate these strict restaurant guidelines.

As you return to your favorite spots in town, I ask you to keep these three things in mind.

Be Patient

In some cases, this is the first time that certain restaurants have dealt with outdoor dining. Endzone Sports Pub, for example, created one to cater to Phase 2 regulations. In all cases, the servers, cooks, and staff have never dealt with rules and regulations like this before. The need for cleanliness is at an all-time high, social distancing needs to be maintained, and the flow of the restaurant has gone through a drastic change. Keep this in mind if your appetizers take a bit longer than usual.

Be Courteous

And not just courteous to your server or bartender. Be courteous to the other patrons that are enjoying outdoor dining as well. Staying socially distant from other tables is extremely important. If you bump into an old friend and want to embrace them, think twice. Grab your mask, check your surroundings, and be mindful of the rules that the restaurant has set in place.

Don’t Forget to Tip

As a prior server in the restaurant industry, I experienced incredibly generous people when it came to tips on the bill. There are always two sides to a coin, however, and I would occasionally run into the person who did not feel a tip was necessary. When your first bill arrives at the table during your first outing back, just remember that these servers and staff are there for you. They are putting their health at potential risk by communicating and interacting with strangers, so you can enjoy your favorite seafood platter you’ve been missing. They are burdened with the weight of the strict rules put upon them and are working tirelessly to follow each one to ensure the perfect dining experience. I’ll never tell a person how much they should tip, but I will tell you to give that server some love and credit. They deserve it.

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