It's Al's Turn column: Advice for dining during COVID

When my wife and I are in the Twin Cities, one of our favorite restaurants is Hell’s Kitchen.

The food is always delicious and unique, the service is excellent, it has an energetic vibe and the prices are reasonable (for the Cities).

Employee owned, it also has an honest, in-your-face attitude full of wit and wisdom. I saw more of that last week when I tumbled across their website and read through a list they posted about what customers should be doing at restaurants as they slowly reopen.

As I was reading it, I kept thinking of our local restaurants – which are also excellent and kick butt over most restaurants in the metro, by the way – and how they would be nodding their heads in agreement.

It’s enlightening advice because it puts diners in the shoes of the restaurant managers and employees. Seeing the other side of the dining experience is eye-opening. Here are some points worth considering the next time you go to your favorite local restaurant:


1. Don't run your server. Try your best to ask for everything you need at once. Remember it's going to be a long walk from the street (if the restaurant has patio dining) into the building for more water or anything else. Help us out by asking all at once.

2. No mask jokes or your views on them. The server has to wear it. They have no choice and really your opinion of them while you're eating not wearing one means nothing to them.

3. The server is wearing the mask to protect you and you have nothing on to protect them. Wash your hands.

4. You eat. You go. Eat your meal. Have some drinks but please do not sit at a table all night unless you continue to spend money. These restaurants are working with very limited space. They can't afford for you to order two side salads and water and sit there for four hours. Yes people do do that. All the time.

5. Don't come out if you're sick.

6. Social distancing. Keep your kids at the table. Yes. They're cute but if they are running around they are getting too close to other people.

7. Cut everyone some slack. Everything may be a bit slow because this is basically a new job for everyone. Be kind.

8. Tip. They are going to be sweating wearing masks all to make a buck. Please treat them right and leave a decent tip. If you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to go out.


9. Be pleasant. You should be happy. You're finally out.

10. Realize that the staff is doing their best.

11. Remember you have three meals a day every day of your life. This is only one of them. Calm down and enjoy it.

12. Please copy and paste!

Our local restaurants are trying so hard to bounce back. You can see it by all the efforts they took to create patio areas, offer curbside pick-up, give gift certificate deals, and now, as they’re finally allowed to open inside dining on a limited basis, they're taking extra steps to abide with COVID-19 precautions.

Let’s show our gratitude by not only giving them business but also encouragement, support and appreciation for all their hard working staff. We’re very lucky to have them.

“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.


Al Edenloff is the editor of the twice-weekly Echo Press. He started his journalism career when he was in 10th grade, writing football and basketball stories for the Parkers Prairie Independent.
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