Dining Our After Covid

After my near disastrous first trip to a mall, it was time to regroup and rethink my strategy for going out in public.

Was I ready to actually sit down in a restaurant?

I knew eventually we would have to eat out again. Sure, we could order takeout like we had been a lot doing during quarantine, but “eating out” while still staying in was getting old. We couldn’t sit at home on another Saturday night hoping something new was on Netflix.

An AP-NORC survey found a great many Americans are still unlikely to go to bars, restaurants, movie theatres or gyms anytime soon. In fact, just 42% say they are comfortable doing all of that again. That tells me we have a ways to go before this economy will recover from this.

As for me, though, we decided it was time to go to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, Pane Rustica.

We can walk there from our house, and so we did. The restaurant looked great, the tables were socially distanced, the staff was wearing masks and gloves, and… they were glad to see us. As glad to see us as we were to see them.

While it a little strange to see a place we know so well look so different, it was a great experience.

Not to mention, a good meal, too. Pane Rustica was great before, and it is great now.

But the night didn’t end there.

As we were leaving dinner, an out-of-town friend asked if we wanted to meet her for a drink. Whoa! A drink? A bar? Can we do that?

So, if a bar serves food, are you technically a restaurant? Dunno how I felt about doing this, but… we had gone this far with it. Let’s try.

I’ll not say where we went. I will say that as much as they tried to make it work, social distancing just does not work well in a place that predominantly serves alcohol. Now I understand why Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is regulating the reopening of bars. It’s too soon… Not yet for bars. Just, not yet. I get it.

I kept my mask close to me—ready to put it on at any second.

I will say this: the staff at this establishment did the best they could with the situation. I get it, folks were just glad to be working again. Grateful that people were willing to try social distancing even if it wasn’t totally working.

So what’s my takeaway of our big night out? We are not through this yet.

It’s going to take awhile to return to normal. Coronavirus has damaged our health, it has also damaged our psyche, and it has damaged our way of life.

We will be back someday. Stronger and better for it. For now, though, it’s baby steps.

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