There’s a new etiquette for ordering carry out during the coronavirus crisis. (Photo by Creative … [+]
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All over the country, stay at home orders have shut thousands of restaurants. A number are soldiering on by offering delivery, pick up and carry out.
But, the coronavirus crisis has meant an adjustment for many diners. They’re finding limited hours, smaller menus and a different group of faces than they were used to seeing in their favorite sitdown places.
Ordering food is no longer as simple as tapping a delivery app or knowing the menu by heart.
It requires a new etiquette of its own. Here are some dos and don’t for navigating the restaurant world in the coronavirus crisis.
DO check everywhere your restaurant posts information. Your logical first thought might be the restaurant website. But you could get there and find simply that your favorite place has placed a notice that they’ve switched to carry out and delivery.
Better bets may be Instagram and Facebook pages, as well as emails and text alerts. That’s where you can find the day’s specials, and any updates in their schedules.
Some restaurants are even writing old-school blackboards and placing them on sidewalks out front, listing the dishes that are available.
DON’T assume the complete menu is still in place. Nearly every restaurant has had to streamline its offerings, and customize them to fit into carry out containers. You will still be getting good food, but choices could be limited.
Before the virus, Galit, the Middle-Eastern restaurant in Chicago, offered diners a double-sided printed menu.
One side listed sections such as hummus, salatim (small appetizers) and dishes roasted over coal. The other side listed a $65 pre-fixe with five sections.
With its dining room now closed, Galit’s website has installed a new tab for “to-go orders.” Along with swag and beverages, diners can pick from three sections: hummus and salatim, mezze and mains, and desserts.
DO order early in the day. Many fine dining restaurants now have limited dinner service, and they’re notifying customers that selections may sell out quickly.
They also are trying to schedule limited staff at times they are most needed, like the lunch rush and dinner hour.
If you have a place in mind, it doesn’t hurt to order by lunch time to assure you’ll get your choices of dishes for supper. Otherwise, you need to have backup items in mind — or maybe even a backup restaurant.
Zingerman’s Deli, in Ann Arbor, Mich., is closed to shoppers, but is open for pick up, curbside and … [+]
DON’T make restaurant personnel wait for you. Restaurants that offer curbside service are asking that patrons call ahead just before they arrive, so that staff can run out to the car, and keep any contact to a minimum.
But with limited people working, a delay in your arrival can rob the restaurant of a much-needed person to prepare orders. So, it behooves you to be prompt. Don’t cause someone to linger at the curb, when they have other work to do.
DO tip well. In a number of places, restaurants are pooling the tips that are added to carryout and delivery orders, and splitting them among the staff on duty. Others are also donating tips to funds meant to assist laid off restaurant personnel.
Not everyone tips the same for pick up orders as they do for sit down service. My advice is to at least double the amount you’d usually leave for a carryout order. If it’s $2, make it $4 or $5. You can be sure that someone who needs the money is getting it.
DON’T give up on your restaurant. After a couple of weeks of shifting to carryout business, some places are taking a much-needed break.
Although Saba in New Orleans was handling 75 to 80 orders per night, its chef, Alon Shaya, decided to take a break this week. (In the meantime, he’s selling his signature hummus and pita through Rouses Markets.)
Other restaurants are also following this type of pause strategy, while some are returning to the scene after having initially been closed.
So, definitely check websites and social media for updates. And if you hear they’ve returned, go get some food to encourage them to keep operating.
DO support relief funds. Restaurants all over the country have created GoFundMe accounts to support their staffs. There also are movements in different cities to help the restaurant community.
If you feel warmly about your favorite place, consider leaving them a tip through one of these funds.
I’m devoting my Instagram Story @michelinemaynard to the posts that I see about these relief efforts. Be sure to check in your area to see which ones are underway.