For most local restaurateurs, the thought of reopening their dining rooms may have seemed unthinkable when we’ve been locked down for so long. But the time to reopen has come, just in time for summer hangouts and celebrations with the family.

Believe you me, as much as I understood why we were all locked down, I couldn’t wait to go to a restaurant again. Culinary and local public health organizations have drawn up guidelines and protocols for recreating the American dining room as a safe space while still acknowledging the risks.

The first step for many restaurants in the return back was setting tighter standards to protect workers and diners. Food safety is always at the top of a restauranteur’s mind but with so many new risks, many locations needed to do an overhaul of retraining of staff and even redesigning.

Here are some things to expect when dining out with the family this summer:

Modified hours: Make sure to call ahead or check restaurants’ websites or social media before heading over to your favorite spot. Chances are their business hours may have changed to accommodate personalized safety standards.

Limited seating: Public health laws are require restaurants to seat no more than six people per table and are encouraging outdoor seating, so if you have a large crew you might want to consider takeout or understand that your party might get split up.

Plexiglass: Not all restaurants are participating in the measure, however it may be one that you see placed between booths and cashiers for extra protection.

Face masks and gloves: It is up to the establishment to require patrons to wear masks, but I don’t see this being done everywhere. However, public health laws require all service staff to wear masks when in presence of other patrons or co-workers and while handling your food.

Though these protocols may seem extensive, it is all to protect each other, our families and children. Honestly, I’m just glad I can eat somewhere else other than my living room. Not all restaurants are open yet but be sure to be on the lookout for your favorite spots and support the locations that are. They could all use the love!

I’m so excited that things are starting to reopen so we can begin our new normal. I’m also looking forward to next month when I will be resuming my restaurant visits to share with all of you! See you all soon! 

Opinions expressed in this column are those of Andrea Saavedra.

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