Dim lights, delicious food, conversation… After an entire year of having little to no exposure to this kind of atmosphere, it is a relief that restaurants are finally opening up. It is time to crawl out of our shells of hibernation and mingle with others, among arrays of food and drinks. At last, we can start to revisit our favorite restaurants.
While there is nothing quite like a home-cooked meal, there is something special about the ability to show up and order a meal catered to your taste. (Not to mention being waited on is an added bonus.) Restaurants are doing their best to safely open up, and they need our support.
Steven Traube, co-founder of the Wall Street Grill in New York City explained the effort restaurants are putting into their establishments in order to resume the normalcy of dining from before COVID-19. With the constant changing of city regulations as New York City struggled to open up, restaurants such as the Wall Street Grill were faced with the dilemma of how to open their doors.
The first thing to open was outdoor seating. According to Traube, Wall Street Grill had the advantage of a wide outdoor seating space. They were able to have approximately 150 seats outdoors and, with a plethora of COVID regulations and safety measures, the restaurant was able to successfully function.
Now that restaurants can have indoor seating, it feels that things are finally returning back to normal, though not without taking extreme caution when it comes to keeping safe. In fact, due to state regulations, as well as the individual concerns of the restaurants, Steven Traube said the restaurants are now perhaps one of the safest public places people can go. At Wall Street Grill, the staff must fill out a health questionnaire every day as well as have additional safety measures such as wearing masks, installing dividers, keeping records of everyone entering its establishment to enable contact-tracing and ensuring that unvaccinated people wear masks. While Traube witnessed that most people generally are excited and willing to go out to restaurants due to a sort of “cabin fever” from being kept at home for so long, there are still some people that are afraid to go out. It is important to note that, although laxer COVID restrictions are allowing indoor seating, the priority of safety and cleanliness has not diminished in the slightest. The amount of work restaurants, kosher and not, all over the city are putting in to operate safely is commendable, and these restaurants even have WhatsApp group chats for updates and information, where they work together to encourage the safe operation of all their establishments.
It is important to note that none of this would be possible without the hard work of the staff at these restaurants. By taking extra precautions to ensure their guests’ safety and comfort, the employees have been working extremely hard to cautiously operate. Steven Traube noted that the staff at Wall Street Grill has been managing in extreme conditions in order to ensure their guests’ comfort, including wearing masks in stifling conditions outdoors. None of these restaurants would be able to function without their personnel.
With all these regulations and efforts in mind, it is hard to find a reason not to go out and support these restaurants. Restaurants are places where people can come together and celebrate a plethora of occasions in the best way possible: with food. There is nothing quite like being seated and served in an atmosphere with the buzz of lively conversation and joy, and having the ability to add to that joy while supporting an incredible restaurant.
Ayelet Glaser is an intern at The Jewish Link and an incoming sophomore at Barnard College.