How To Be A Good Patron When Outdoor Dining At Your Favorite Restaurant

Crain’s New York posted a helpful list of tips for safely and politely dining outdoors in the city. Much of this is probably second nature by now — wear a mask when entering and leaving, maintain safe distance from other groups, don’t go out if you’re feeling ill — but Crain’s highlighted other, less obvious considerations that restaurant owners wanted to bring to patrons’ attention. 

For our brave new world of COVID-19 etiquette, the following are a few pointers to remember while enjoying your favorite outdoor dining options in Lower Manhattan. 

Don’t Crowd Around The Restaurant When Waiting To Be Seated

Per Governor Cuomo’s executive order, restaurants must maintain order and crowding within 100 feet of their establishment. So if people stand around waiting, not only does this present a health risk to the crowd, but it also puts the restaurant at risk of a penalty. The respectful thing to do when waiting for a table is to go for a stroll until it’s time to be seated. Happily, there’s plenty to explore on a walk in Lower Manhattan. 

Don’t Move Seats Or Ask To Switch Tables After Being Seated

Tables must be fully sanitized after each use, so a change request creates more work for waitstaff in addition to increasing everyone’s risk of exposure. One restaurant owner told Crain’s he recommends avoiding moving your chairs around: “If chairs were added or moved, then tables wouldn’t be the state-mandated six feet apart from one another anymore.”

Keep Your Mask On Until Your Food Arrives

Once seated, customers are technically allowed to remove their face coverings, so this tip is a matter of individual discretion and consideration for waitstaff (do unto others!): Eater’s guide to outdoor dining notes that “restaurants can encourage, but not require customers to keep masks on while not actively drinking or eating.” A couple restaurant representatives told Crain’s it was important, for the sake of staff safety, for patrons to keep masks on when first seated and while ordering. 

Don’t Ask Friends To Join You For Drinks After You’ve Already Eaten

As Crain’s notes, “per the governor’s rules, restaurants can’t serve patrons alcoholic beverages if they aren’t ordering food to go.” Additionally, adding extra chairs to a table makes it difficult for restaurants to keep diners at the required social distance. Since the state has instituted a “three strikes and you’re closed” rule, it’s important not to put your favorite establishments at risk of a strike. 

Be Nice And Tip Really Well

Restaurant workers are facing extraordinary challenges right now, so consider it an investment in a spot you like and hope to frequent again when the pandemic ends. 

photo: Crown Shy