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Editor's Note: This story is unlocked for everyone to read courtesy of the CRVA, our partner in nourishing culinary exploration for residents and visitors of the Queen City.

May 28, 2020

Restaurants are adjusting to be safer for staff and diners

Your favorite places are reopening, but they’ll look a little different

Since Governor Roy Cooper announced the state was moving into phase two of its three-phase reopening approach, restaurants have been readying their dining rooms to welcome guests back in. The state released its own set of requirements and guidelines, but many restaurants are going beyond those guidelines to ensure the safety of their staff and guests during the COVID-19 pandemic. We all know to expect limited capacity in dining rooms and staff wearing masks. Here are five other things you’ll notice when dining out in phase two. —Kristen Wile

No more fancy menus

Leather-bound or clipboard menus have become staples in fine dining rooms. Instead of handing guests heavy menus when they sit down, restaurants are moving to single-use or QR code menus. Single-use menus are printed on paper that is disposed of after a guest uses it. QR code menus are scanned with your phone, then display the restaurant’s full menu on your device. Either way, you’re the only diner that will handle your menu. 

Contactless payment

Many restaurants stopped accepting cash for sanitary reasons when the novel coronavirus began to spread. Rare Roots Hospitality is taking this one step further with contactless payment. Guests will be asked to pay their bill via their phone with a scannable receipt that will bring up payment options, preventing the staff from having to handle credit cards or cash.

Bathroom attendants 

Surveys indicate that people remain concerned about using public restrooms. “Bathrooms are a problem, I think, for everybody,” says Aria and Cicchetti owner Pierre Bader. To allay those fears, some restaurateurs, including Bader, are planning to hire bathroom attendants. These staffers will wipe down all restroom surfaces after each use in a very visible step toward making guests feel safe.

Simpler table settings

High end restaurants are known for attentive tableside service, including replacing cutlery course after course. Now, restaurants are planning to set your table just before you sit down and ask guests to use the same cutlery throughout their meals to minimize how often servers are handling used silverware. Items like salt shakers and condiments will be removed from tables, too, and instead you’ll be given individual servings. 

Reservations are strongly encouraged

Restaurants are dealing with an entirely new dining room layout, with tables spread six feet apart, as well as additional temporary outdoor dining space. The state’s reopening guidelines also request restaurants keep diners out of the restaurant until they’re seated. If you’re planning to walk in and wait for a table, know that you’ll likely have to do so from your car or outside the restaurant. Many places are offering to call you when your table is ready to help keep you at a safe distance while waiting for your table. 

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